Calls to rethink decision to close Banbridge Police enquiry office ​​​​​​​

​POLICE chiefs have been urged to scrap plans to close the enquiry office at Banbridge station.
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The call was issued after the force announced the permanent closure of 11 enquiry offices across Northern Ireland.

The proposal will see local residents have to travel to Lurgan or Newry for routine matters.

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The decision comes as the PSNI faces severe pressures on its budget, with financial constraints impacting recruitment.

The Banbridge police enquiry office has been earmarked for closure.The Banbridge police enquiry office has been earmarked for closure.
The Banbridge police enquiry office has been earmarked for closure.

The force estimates the closures will save the service £400,000 per year.

Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart said the measure is part of a cost-cutting exercise.

"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,” the Upper Bann MP said.

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

"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, and the level of crime, including drugs, anti-social behaviour and theft."

Ms Lockhart said she has been reassured the closure, however, won’t have an impact on the ongoing policing footprint in Banbridge, and community teams will continue to operate from the station.

She added: "It will however, be an inconvenience to those wishing to use the public enquiry facility to report an in person crime or incident, or present with documentation, organise street collections and fulfil bail requirements.”

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Meanwhile, DUP MLA Diane Dodds has said she is “shocked” and “genuinely concerned” about the future of the station.

She acknowledged the announcement could negatively impact public confidence in policing.

“The removal of any service is worrying, and it will be perceived by many as Banbridge having a second-rate service,” she said.

"This muted closure undoubtedly sends the wrong message and will definitely not act as a deterrent for anti-social behaviour.

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"I have every respect for the officers in the area and the work they have to contend with in very challenging situations, however, I think this move will only make their job more difficult.”

Mrs Dodds said she plans to raise concerns with the force at a meeting this week.

Speaking about the decision, Assistant Chief Constable for Local Policing, Bobby Singleton, said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly and we are conscious there may be an actual or perceived loss of accessibility, visibility and ability to respond to the needs of the community.

"It is important to emphasise that these are not station closures.

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"Police officers and staff will continue to serve the community from their branch.”

He also outlined how the decision has been recommended after an extensive review into the volume of enquiries.

It concluded that against the backdrop of wider resource challenges, the current service is neither sustainable nor effective.

Commenting on the move, ABC councillor Paul Greenfield said he has already made his views known.

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"I raised issues after the shocking announcement with new Superintendent Paul McGrattan, at the PCSP meeting.

“I highlighted the effect this has on community confidence and also that some members of the community already have to travel some distance to get to the Banbridge enquiry office.”

Alderman Glenn Barr, Alderman Ian Burns and Councillor Kyle Savage have jointly penned a letter of concern.

“The closure of the Banbridge PSNI enquiry office represents a significant loss for our community," the statement reads.

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“This decision will undoubtedly impact residents who rely on the office for essential services, including reporting crimes, seeking assistance, and accessing information.”

The letter also urges the PSNI to reconsider its decision and explore alternative solutions.

The exact timescale for the enquiry office closure is unknown.