PSNI: office cuts reflect public need in digital age

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Police have defended their decision to close six enquiry offices and reduce the hours of the majority of their remaining 30 offices where face-to-face services are possible.

The PSNI say communities are accessing public services in different ways and recent figures reveal less than three incidents a day are being reported at enquiry offices.

Chairman of the Police Federation Mark Lindsay described the changes as “the first inevitable step on the road to implementing further cuts which will fundamentally change the way policing is delivered in Northern Ireland”.

He said: “There is no denying the changing trends that are occurring. That said, there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction with the public.”

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: “Digital access is what the public have chosen and, in this environment of changing public need and police resources, this is how we are designing for the future and providing best value for public money.

“Enquiry offices were conceived before the digital age however we appreciate that there are some services that require face to face interaction. When considering the changes to station enquiry opening hours we looked at demand and peak use to ensure the impact on the public is kept to a minimum.”

From April 3 enquiry offices at stations in Antrim Road (Belfast), Ballycastle, Ballymoney, Carrickfergus, Portadown and Newcastle will no longer be open to the public.

Enquiry offices at Woodbourne, Strandtown, Lisburn Road, Tennent Street (all Belfast), Bangor, Newtownards, Downpatrick, Lisburn, Armagh, Banbridge, Lurgan, Newry, Cookstown, Dungannon, Enniskillen, Lisnaskea, Omagh, Magherafelt, Waterside, Limavady, Strabane, Ballymena, Coleraine, Larne, Newtownabbey, Strabane and Antrim will be open from 11am to 7pm, Monday to Friday and closed for lunch between 3pm and 3.30pm.

Strand Road in Londonderry will be open from 9am to 9pm, Monday to Friday, and 12noon to 8pm at weekends while Musgrave Street which will continue to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Limited opening hours will be in place at Crossmaglen and Newtownhamilton.