A move by the PSNI to cut the enquiry office opening hours at Lisburn Police Station has been criticised by a local group of legal professionals.
Lisburn Police have advised that the opening hours at the Barrack Street station will be reduced to 11am to 7pm, Monday to Friday, from April 3.
The station enquiry office, which is used by people to produce documents, answer bail and for other non-emergency matters, is currently open 9am - 9pm, Monday to Friday and 10am - 8pm, Saturday and Sunday.
A statement issued on the PSNI Lisburn Facebook said the decision had been taken in response to fewer people reporting to police stations in person. However, Lisburn Solicitors’ Association claims the move is nothing more than a cost cutting exercise.
“Digital advances mean you are contacting us in different ways,” the PSNI statement said. “Since 2012/13 the number of reports made to police at stations has reduced by 28,762 reports. You are now able to report general crime to us online (via the PSNI website - www.psni.police.uk) and engage with us through social media.
“In this environment of changing public need and police resources, we are designing for the future and providing best value for public money.”
Hitting out at the PSNI’s decision to slash the opening hours at the local station, Janice Spence, Chairperson of Lisburn Solicitors’ Association, said: “We oppose any reduction in access to justice whether that be the public’s ability to contact the police or access the judicial system.
“This continued erosion of facilities for local people is dressed up as cost efficiencies rather than the cost cutting exercise it is.
“This means that the office will be closed to the public and face-to-face communication with the police will be further reduced.”
Lisburn Police have stressed that officers can still be contacted 24 hours a day by phoning 101, or 999 in the case of an emergency.