Local Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs Jnr has met with PSNI Area Commander for Larne and Ballymena Chief Inspector John Magill about concerns that the current police response unit based at Larne Police Station could be re-located to Ballymena.
Speaking after the meeting Mr Beggs stated:
“There are very real concerns in the community about the possible relocation of the Police emergency response unit from Larne Station to Ballymena. Whilst I appreciate that the PSNI response officers would still spend their shift patrolling in the Larne area, I expressed my concern to Inspector Magill that so much of their day would be spent travelling back and forward to base at Ballymena. During this time they would not be available to assist the people of Larne or provide reassurance by their physical presence.
It appears that budgetary pressure is a major factor behind the rethinking of current policing provision. It is essential that any proposed charges are fully thought through and do not endanger public safety or public confidence in the police.
I note that a key objective in the new Police Plan for Larne is “Keeping police officers in Larne Area Command Unit visible and keeping the community informed about local policing issues.” One of the keys means to achieve this is “To continue to link Neighbourhood Policing through Response Policing officers attached to Larne Area Command Unit.”
It seems fairly obvious that moving response policing officers from Larne and Ballymena is a breach of the latest local Policing Plan. I have urged Chief Inspector Magill to ensure wide consultation and in particular to consult with the Larne Policing and Community Safety Partnership to minimise any potential adverse effect of any changes.”
Already Carrickfergus response officers are based in Newtownabbey.
The Ulster Unionist MLA added, “The proposal to base Larne response officers in Ballymena would leave the East Antrim coastal area less protected. With Shanes Hill road vulnerable to winter blockages, is Ballymena really a good place to locate Larne response police officers? With the reform of local council’s imminent, I would urge the PSNI to rethink the proposal. At present Larne and Carrickfergus are located in different policing districts. Why can Larne and Carrickfergus response police not be located in the East Antrim strip and work more closely together?”