The closure of PSNI enquiry offices over the Christmas holidays has been condemned as dangerous by Policing Board Member and UUP MLA Ross Hussey.
He also criticised the police hierarchy for plans to close enquiry offices during various public holidays thereafter.
“I have been informed that the only enquiry office in Northern Ireland which will be open on Christmas Day is Musgrave Street (Belfast),” he said.
“Clearly this means that Strand Road station, the city police station will not be open to the public. This to me is a dangerous withdrawal of access to police over public holidays. Whilst I accept police officers are on duty 24/7 365 days a year, many people feel that the physical presence of police staff at enquiry offices is also necessary.
“I know from my time as a police officer that people called into police stations at Christmas time for a variety of reasons, including to report assaults, to seek assistance or even to deal with sudden deaths. Whether it is to report a crime or even produce driving documents the removal of an additional day is a backward step.
“I believe that the level of savings which will result from this will be relatively insignificant in terms of the totality of the police budget, because the station enquiry office staff are civil servants whose pay would not equate to that of a senior Constable.
“I have asked for details of consultations made in respect of this decision between police and the union representing the civil servants and indeed with the public. I cannot agree with this decision and will be raising this issue at the next meeting of the Policing Board.”
Julia Kee UUP Foyle representative said it was a frightening reminder of how public service cuts were affecting not only health and well being, but safety. I am glad these will be challenged at the Policing Board.”