Response police officers were relocated from Carrickfergus to Newtownabbey and then to Larne and with the PSNI carrying out a scoping exercise on the future of local Police Stations, Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs MLA has highlighted the continuing need for a police presence Carrickfergus.
Mr Beggs asked the Minister of Justice “whether he is aware of the findings of the recent PSNI scoping exercises into the long-term plans for police stations in Northern Ireland, particularly in the East Antrim constituency.”
Mr Ford said “The specific issue of the use of police stations, which Mr Beggs highlights, is an issue for the Chief Constable. The potential disposal of unused police assets also falls to the Policing Board. None of it falls to the Minister of Justice.”
The East Antrim UUP MLA then asked “Does the Minister agree with me that, in order for justice to be administered and delivered, it is important that there is a police presence in a large town such as Carrickfergus, with a population of over 40,000 people, so that it does not suffer from having to be policed from neighbouring districts such as Larne or Ballymena, and that, particularly when others are trying to enforce a form of policing, it is important that the PSNI has a presence in Carrickfergus?”
The Justice Minister responded by adding “There are two different points there. It is certainly important that there is a police presence in every part of Northern Ireland. That does not necessarily mean having a building in every part of Northern Ireland. It is important that the police manage the resources they have in a way that ensures that front-line policing is protected, rather than preserving architecture across the region.
He refers to those who claim a right to police within the community, wherever they happen to be, and he is absolutely right. There can be no place for self-appointed thugs who pretend as if they are acting in the interests of the community when they are largely lining their own pockets. We need to ensure that that does not happen anywhere in Northern Ireland.”
In response to the Ministers comments, Roy Beggs MLA said, “I remain concerned that some would like not only Carrickfergus response policing but also community policing to be based elsewhere. I believe that it is vital that a community police focal point and presence remains in Carrickfergus”.