Police urged to rethink proposal to close Banbridge PSNI enquiry office

Banbridge PSNI station. Google imageBanbridge PSNI station. Google image
Banbridge PSNI station. Google image
​Police chiefs have been urged to scrap plans to close the enquiry office at Banbridge PSNI station.

Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart said elected representatives have been briefed about the proposal – which would local residents having to travel to Lurgan, Newry or Armagh to collect forms for routine matters such as street collections.

A closure would also force anyone required to produce driving documents to travel much further.​

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The proposal comes as the PSNI faces severe pressures on its budget and financial constraints affecting recruitment.

Ms Lockhart said she was briefed about the situation on Friday.

The DUP representative said closure of Banbridge enquiry office is part of a cost cutting exercise with a reduction from 28 to 17 across Northern Ireland having been announced.

She said it is estimated that the closures will save the service £400k per annum.

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"Exact timescale for closure is unknown but likely to be within the next three months,” Ms Lockhart said.

"This is a big blow to Banbridge and will undoubtedly give cause for concern with regards to accessibility to the station and subsequently to the local policing team.

"I have raised my concerns and asked for this decision to be reviewed.

“I am however reassured that this will in no way impact the ongoing policing footprint in Banbridge and that officers will continue to police the local community from Banbridge station. Additionally it will not impact station security.

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“It will however, be an inconvenience to those wishing to use the public facing enquiry facility to report in person a crime or incident, or present with documentation, organise street collections and fulfilling bail requirements.”

Ms Lockhart said: “People are being advised to use their nearest which would be Lurgan, Ardmore, Armagh or Newry.

"This is very unfortunate and I have called on the chief constable to reconsider this decision based on the location of Banbridge with the A1 to Dublin corridor running so close to the area, the level of crime be it drugs, anti-social behaviour, theft amongst others.

“There is a feeling that Banbridge, when it comes to policing cuts, often draws the short straw.”

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Ms Lockhart said her concern was “no reflection on the exceptional officers and service we currently have,” but added: “When neighbourhood policing teams were being lost, Banbridge lost its team whilst other areas remained.

"Thankfully we were able to have this reinstated, however, this latest blow will serve as a bitter pill to swallow given the need for more accessibility, not less.”

In December, chief constable Jon Boutcher warned members of the Policing Board that the PSNI was at a “tipping point” and was on course to see officer headcount drop below 6,000 for the first time in early 2025 if action was not taken.

He also vowed to start a new recruitment drive for officers in April, despite the PSNI’s financial difficulties. The recommended officer number for the PSNI is 7,500.

The service is facing a budget shortfall of £52.5 million this financial year – a figure that includes the funds needed to introduce the 7% pay rise.

The PSNI has been invited to comment.