Strategically the PSNI is at risk of policing working class areas at the expense of “other sections of the community”, according to Lagan Valley MLA Brenda Hale.
Voicing concerns that the PSNI’s Engagement Strategy for 2016 fails to address the needs of “vast swathes” of the wider community, the DUP assembly member called for a rethink and warned of potential public alienation and a loss of confidence in police.
Though supportive of local police, with whom she continues to work closely, she said, Mrs Hale fears the Policing Board Community Engagement Strategy has got it wrong in terms of fulfilling its aim to encourage people to work with and support the police.
“The PSNI are putting all their energies and engagement into working class estates,” she said, “but this is at the expense of all other sections of the community, including churches, businesses and large areas of both the urban and rural communities.
“Whilst I recognise that some areas may require higher visibility and involvement of the PSNI it cannot be to the detriment of all other sections within our communities.
“I have huge reservations that if the PSNI continue down this route they could alienate and exclude many people, resulting in an overall loss of confidence in our police force.
“I urge the PSNI to reconsider and recognise that low crime areas also have the same issues and fear of crime, regardless of postcode or community group.”