A prospective candidate for Ballymoney town has criticized the imminent relocation of the PSNI Call Handling service from Coleraine to Maydown in Londonderry.
District Policing Partnership member Iain McAfee who intends to stand as an Independent claimed the decision was likely to further erode the community’s already strained confidence in the police in the area.
Since January 2008 all calls to the PSNI from Ballymoney have been directed to the call centre in Coleraine police station.
Mr McAfee now says that the decision to move it further away is expected to add to the difficulties that already exist.
In a statement to the Times, Mr McAfee said: “There have always been serious concerns about the call handling system in Coleraine and I dread to think what will happen now. In my time on the DPP we have raised numerous complaints about how effective and responsive it is.
“Additionally in a recent consultation undertaken in Glebeside about attitudes to policing, we found that the opinions of residents were very much shaped by response times and the quality of service. It is clear that the community’s perspective of the PSNI is now related closely to how they deliver their service.
“People recalled how they were passed from pillar to post and how when officers were sent to an incident, they did not know where to go. What hope have we then if someone is based in Londonderry? What are the chances of them knowing anywhere in Ballymoney?
“There is major discontent among people I have spoken to with one person asking me where is it going to end and what’s next a call centre in India? It may have been a joke but to me it demonstrates the level of unease.”
Mr McAfee accepted that the budgetary restraints would mean the reshaping of services and claimed that if this resulted in more neighbourhood officers on the beat then it would have a positive effect.
“I have however a gut feeling that this decision will be detriment of the service the police provide to the community in terms of response and also we will not see more neighbourhood officers in Ballymoney,” he added.