Warning issued over rural policing cuts

Lisburn Councillor Robbie Butler has warned that any reduction in rural policing will create an atmosphere of fear among rural communities, especially in the vulnerable elderly population.

Councillor Butler issued his warning following speculation about the removal of dedicated neighbourhood police officers from villages in the region.

“I want to secure a meeting between senior police officers in the City Council area and members of local Community Associations so that residents’ representatives can hear at first hand if any decision has been made from September, and have the opportunity to ask questions directly.

“As a public representative, I thought it was only right that the residents of the villages and community organizations themselves have the opportunity to meet with senior police officers so that the PSNI can allay fears concerning speculation that the villages and rural communities will be left without a dedicated neighbourhood cover,” said Councillor Butler.

“There is much talk among local communities, particularly in rural areas, that any decision for moving our neighbourhood police officers is due to either a low recorded crime rate or a cut in the PSNI budget. “But is there not a possibility that any low rate is due to the presence of a neighbourhood officers, and the local knowledge and intelligence that they carried, and that by their removal there may be a void that others may try to fill?

“And there is a further major concern.

“The rural population of our region is an aging population and that while they may not be the victims of crime, it is the fear of crime that haunts many of them both day and night.

“A reality needs to be faced and that is the further withdrawal of rural services is yet another attack on our rural population and way of life.”