Efforts to streamline policing in Mid Ulster have resulted in a number of changes – including an to end to the PSNI’s 24-hour service at Cookstown station.
Although the exact structure of the PSNI’s new Mid-Ulster District has yet to be determined, officials have decided that current police teams will no longer exist as of April 1, said the Tyrone Times on Saturday.
Instead, they will be replaced by Local Policing Teams (LPTs), and supported by Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPTs) in areas suffering from higher crime levels, deprivation or rural isolation.
Two LPTs – operating from the existing police stations in Dungannon and Magherafelt – will provide 24-hour cover for the whole Mid-Ulster area.
Speaking about the changes, Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin, said: “The LPTs are an exciting development – they will not just attend calls but will develop a greater sense of ownership of the area and the problems within it.
“They will build up an enhanced knowledge through engagement with community representatives, local clergy, principals of schools and other key figures.”
But on top of the two LPTs, mid-Ulster will also have three NPTs to “provide a dedicated extra policing presence, reassurance and commitment to communities where it is most needed”.
And these will be based in Coalisland, Clogher and Magherafelt, although the Coalisland team will actually work out of Cookstown police station.
The NPT teams are designed to be mobile and will be deployed to areas to deal with critical issues, as needed.
The changes, the PSNI has said, stem from their mandate to align with new council structures, but have also come about as a result of severe, ongoing budget cuts and decreasing resources.
The new LPTs and NPTs will begin functioning in April, although officials have suggested it could take up to six months to have the new model fully in place.
ACC Martin added: “There is still much work to be done around the detail of team sizes, shift patterns and job descriptions, to name but a few challenges. With less money and fewer officers we cannot simply replicate our existing district structures.”