Police Service Announce Closure Of 11 Station Enquiry Offices

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has announced a decision to permanently close 11 Station Enquiry Offices.

In March, the Chief Constable informed the Northern Ireland Policing Board that as a consequence of the current financial and resource pressures facing the Police Service, the decision has been taken to reduce the number of Station Enquiry Offices from 28 to 17.

Announcing the closures, Assistant Chief Constable for Local Policing, Bobby Singleton, said: "This decision follows an extensive review which included analysis of the volume and type of demand in enquiry offices. This review concluded that against the backdrop of wider resource challenges, the current service is neither sustainable nor effective.

"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. However, the PSNI is facing unprecedented financial pressure and savings are necessary to deliver a sustainable and effective organisation.

"The Chief Constable has been clear for some time that difficult decisions are going to have to be taken. The Police Service is shrinking and as a result, the level of service the public can expect to see is going to change.
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"It is important to emphasise that these are not station closures. Police Officers and staff will continue to serve the community from these locations. Our analysis shows that even with the reduced arrangement over 90% of households in Northern Ireland will be within 15 miles of a station Enquiry Office. The average household is 10.7 miles from their nearest office (an increase of 4 miles) or 18.5 minutes by car (an increase of 1.5 minutes).

"The need for clarity and transparency on this issue is paramount. We want to be clear with the public about the challenges we are facing and the type of Service they can expect to see in the coming years."

The PSNI currently operates 28 Enquiry Offices across Northern Ireland. One of these sites, Musgrave Street in Belfast, operates 24/7 with Strand Road, Derry/Londonderry, opening for 76 hours per week and the remaining 26 sites opening for 40 hours per week.

These 'front counters' are operated by Station Enquiry Assistants (SEAs), employed by a third party private sector contractor as part of a managed services contract.

The Police Service is currently progressing the closure of the following enquiry offices:

• In Belfast: Lisburn Road

• Strandtown

• Tennent Street

• Woodbourne

• Bangor

• Banbridge

• Magherafelt

• Dungannon

• Lisnaskea

• Waterside

• Newtownabbey

The timescale for these closures is not yet clear - there are also a number of technical and practical matters that we need to address - but is likely to be within the next three months. These are not station closures and each of the police stations mentioned will remain operational.

This decision will represent a significant financial saving and maximise the availability of officers for critical service provision within communities.

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