New station may not have 'inquiry desk' or open to public says Finlay

BUILDING work on Ballymoney's new police station could start within the next few weeks - it has been revealed.

However the welcoming news comes on the back of speculation that the new multi-million pound base at Charlotte Street may not have a functional inquiry desk or be open to the general public.

In a statement to the Times Cllr John Finlay, the First Chairman of Ballymoney District Policing Partnership, also expressed his concern over the future of Policing in Ballymoney alleging that the Chief Constable is to cut the number of officers from 12 to 10.

He said that Ballymoney needs more not less Police officers on the ground.

Commenting Cllr Finlay said: "Whilst I welcome the news that Ballymoney is to get a new Police station and builders are to be on site within the next few weeks I am deeply concerned that the numbers of Police officers are to be cut from 12 to 10.

"I also fear that the new station may be closed to the public given the fact that there will not even be enough officers to man the inquiry desk.

"This is at a time when the dissident threat is growing and especially when the Chief Constable has expressed his preference for community policing whereby Police officers are on the ground within the local community.

"Reducing the number of officers available will have an major impact on the ability of the Police station to function effectively and will ultimately reduce the time officers will have to spend out on the ground.

"A Police station should be open to the public with officers there at hand to help anyone reporting a crime or seeking help. I fear that there may even be an inability to keep the inquiry desk open because of these cuts.

"A new Police station is all well and good, but when you don't have the man power it is simply ineffective and unable to meet the needs of the local community.

"I urge a rethink and for the number of officers to be retained at the current rate."

In response Ballymoney Police Inspector David Anderson explained: "We plan to have a contractor commence preliminary site works in the next few weeks to facilitate car parking etc during the construction phase of the new build.

"It has long been our intention to replace deskbound officers with civilian Support Staff where possible. This will allow officers to fill vacant frontline policing posts within H District while maintaining the same level of Community Policing in Ballymoney.

"Ballymoney PSNI station is open to the public from 8am to 8pm every day and we have no plans to change that."