The chairman of Maydown Community Association has called for cuts to community policing to stop.
In a statement this week Martin McCartney, who is also vice-chairman of Waterside Community Safety Forum, said he was horrified to learn at a meeting on Monday of Safety Forum members that, as of last Monday, members of neighbourhood community policing teams would have to re-apply for their jobs under new structures due to cutbacks.
“As I understand it, applicants cannot fall back on references as decisions as to who gets jobs will be taken by a panel in Newry, and applicants will be asked to rank their preferred posts, which means those at the end of the list will have no choice of where they work. This means someone from a rural Protestant area might end up working in a Catholic area in the Cityside and vice versa,” he said.
“There is also talk about doing away with neighbourhood policing teams and that neighbourhood officers will end up on rapid response teams based at Strand Road.
“It has taken the police a lifetime of work to get to know their own areas and now it looks as though they are being pulled out of them, which means there will be no local knowledge left. As it is officers in Eglinton have been pulled into Waterside policing area and could well end up going to Strand Road.
“The continued cuts to the neighbourhood police teams must stop,” he said.
His comments were supported by DUP Alderman Maurice Devenney, who said the continued chipping away of police resources did nothing to allay concerns about crime, particularly in rural areas.
“I have to say, it is baffling to me how the PSNI can claim that there will be no dilution of services when, for the past three years, there have been repeated cuts to community policing. At a time when we have a rising elderly population who fear crime this makes no sense,” he said.