BALLYMONEY has a staggering 60 less police officers than four years ago.
In 2007 there were 85 police officers serving the local community, however, according to figures released at a recent District Policing Partnership, the borough now only has 25 officers - which includes 12 part time officers who are only allow to work 15 hours per month!
The shocking news was disclosed by the Chief Inspector John Magill after DPP member Cllr Anita Cavlan questioned him about there ‘not being enough officers’.
She asked: “Is it OK to say that we do not have enough officers? Is it so that they are also being bogged down with paper work with 32 out of their 36 hours of work being in the office doing reports? This means they are not out doing policing work on the streets.”
Responding CI Magill stated: “”Ballymoney has seen a reduction in officers. Over the past four years this has reduced from 85 officers to 25 sub staff.
“”Of these 25, 10 are full time Neighbourhood Police Officers (6 for Ballymoney Town, 2 for the Bann Sector and 2 for the Bush sector), there are two full time sergeants, (12) part time officers who work 15 hours per month, plus two police staff. And finally there’s a Chief Inspector, who is split between Ballymoney, Moyle and H District Community Safety and an Inspector who covers Ballymoney and H District Community Safety. We also have 15 response officers who come from Coleraine to cover Ballymoney.
“”As a part of their duties officers have to staff the enquiry office as well as write reports which does have an impact on resources. However other areas are under the same cuts and pressures as Ballymoney, so we are not alone.” Some resources previously located in Ballymoney have been relocated to Coleraine, for instance CID. These officers continue to provide a service to Ballymoney Borough.”
Expressing her shock at the statistics, Cllr Cavlan proposed that the DPP invite H District PSNI Chief Superintendent Chris Noble to come to a Ballymoney DPP meeting to address the concerns.
Agreeing DPP member Cllr John Finlay praised local officers for all their work however continued: “”I have a high regard for Community Police Officers who I feel are treated abominably. They are doing their best but they are not getting to do the job they should do. We need to get back to when we had dedicated officers in certain areas. There’s no reason why two civilians can’t do the enquiry desk.
“”We should also call for response officers to be back in Ballymoney. At the minute we are losing two hours everyday with the change over of shifts as officers have to go back to Coleraine. I back that we get the District Commander to come here.””
DPP member Joe Doherty also supported the call adding: “”85 police officers in Ballymoney only four years ago - that’s a drastic reduction. Ballymoney continues to grow over the years and is a much larger town now then when we had 85 officers.
“”The community like to see police officers and it’s not happening. Over the past few years we have seen the RUC disappear and now the PSNI is disappearing in Ballymoney.
“”We’re going to have a big new police station manned by police officers who aren’t being seen on the streets. This is an open door for criminals. We have lost 60 officers in the last few years and this is a great tragedy.”
Cllr Philip McGuigan also question the amount of time officers spent doing ‘bureaucratic work’.
Responding CI Magill said there was ‘a lot of computer work to be done by officers’.
He continued: “”The PSNI has spent million of pounds on mobile devices like Blackberries so officers can deal with emails and fill in forms while on the ground. This should remove the need for officers to continually go to and from the station.
“”However we still need evidence which involves a lot of administration work like interviewing and recording tape transcripts which can only be done in the station.
““In the near future there are plans for more fixed penalty notices to be issued for example for disorderly behaviour which again should reduce man hours behind desks. We obviously want officer on the streets more but we also want to give a first class service and not take shortcuts.””
The police chief also highlighted that officers were required to complete ‘mandatory training and, court appearances . In addition to this officers also could be off duty on rest days or annual leave. “