‘Biggest shake-up’ in years for Policing

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin, the senior officer responsible for District Policing.
Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin, the senior officer responsible for District Policing.

Local policing is facing its biggest shake-up in years as a result of significant budget pressures combined with a requirement to align with new council structures by April 1.

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin, the senior officer responsible for District Policing, outlined the new structure.

He said: “We will move from the existing seven policing Districts to 11.

“However we are making this change at a time of continuing budget cuts and so we cannot simply replicate our existing District structures taking into account our reducing resources.

“While leaner and more streamlined the new 11 Districts will focus olocal priorities under the leadership of a District Commander.”

The new districts will be supported by three Area co-ordinating tiers - covering Belfast and Northern and Southern parts of Northern Ireland.

These will provide additional resources to help deal with local priorities and emerging threat, risk and harm issues. They will have the ability to muster and move resources to where the need is greatest on a daily basis.

“This structure will allow us to use officers and staff more flexibly and ensure we keep people safe across all our Districts as well as providing local accountability and effective partnership working,” he said. “I would urge the public to understand that there must be changes in the way that policing services are delivered as we continue to restructure. The impact of the budget cuts will not be felt on District policing alone; it will be right across the full spectrum of policing.”

“The11 District Commanders have been appointed across Northern Ireland. Superintendent Sean Wright will be District Commander for Lisburn and Castlereagh Policing District. He will be responsible for all aspects of local policing and setting Lisburn and Castlereagh Policing District’s policing priorities along with the Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP). Superintendent Wright will take up his new post with effect from 16 February 2015 in order to help shape and design policing in the new District.

Lisburn and Castlereagh Policing District is within the Southern Area co-ordinating tier which will be led by Chief Superintendent Pauline Shields in her new role as Area Co-ordinator.

Mr Martin said: “During this time of change I would like to reassure the public that policing remains a 24 hour, seven days a week operation and we will be there at people’s time of need. “

“We can be contacted 24 hours a day on either 101 or for emergencies on 999. All normal policing will carry on. We will patrol in vehicles and on foot, carry out searches, arrest criminals and the public will continue to see police on a daily basis.”