New police station for Armagh

Thursday, 15 December 2016

ARMAGH is in line for a new multi-million pound police station to serve the needs of future generations.

The new station - which will be located at Gough Barracks - is one of three across Northern Ireland unveiled in the 2016 PSNI estate strategy, which has now been approved by the Policing Board.

Over the next three years, the PSNI envisages spending an estimated 90 million on estate related works.

While the strategy outlines plans for major and minor works, as well as custody provision, it also approves the disposal of 12 PSNI stations, including Tandragee.

The 11 other stations set for disposal out of the organisation's 59 facilities are Aughnacloy, Ballyclare, Ballynahinch, Castlederg, Cushendall, Maghera, Moira, Portaferry, Warrenpoint, and Willowfield and York Road in Belfast.

The current police estate, which is owned by the Policing Board, is worth 445 million and the process of disposal will result in around 1.5 million capital sales receipts and around 600,000 savings per annum in running costs for the 12 stations.

Speaking about the importance of the police estate, Policing Board chair Anne Connolly said whilst policing is not about bricks and mortar, "an effective police service must have the necessary range of buildings to support its work".

"Part of our role is to ensure that the PSNI operate efficiently so we need to be satisfied that the plans for the current estate and future investment in it meet policing need and demand.

"As the legal owner of the police estate, the Board has carefully examined the plan prior to approval and welcomes the capital investment in new stations planned for Armagh, Cookstown and Ballymena, the redevelopment of facilities at the police college in Garnerville and a new custody provision in Craigavon and Waterside.

"The disposal of 12 station sites which are currently sitting closed delivers welcome returns of about 1.5 million back into the pocket of the PSNI with a significant saving each year on running costs, Ms Connolly added.

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin acknowledged that the permanent closure and disposal of stations is "an emotive issue and can have an effect on community confidence".

I d like to reassure the public that these 12 stations are no longer being used by police operationally and formally disposing of them will save money, such as bills incurred from utility services.

Times have changed, and due to advancements in modern technology, as well as continuing budgetary restraints, the Police Service continues to look at new ways of providing the most effective service to the public in the most cost efficient way.

Communities are increasingly interacting with police in different ways. The digital age means we are able to offer the public instant access to information and services through the PSNI website. It also provides local information specific to each of our 11 Policing Districts."

ACC Martin said the reality is that nearly all policing services are delivered outside of stations. "Policing isn't about buildings; it is about officers working with the community in order to protect them, prevent crime and detect criminals.

All routine 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.

Policing is changing but our policing purpose remains the same - Keeping People Safe is still our priority.

"We will continue to do this by preventing harm, protecting the vulnerable and detecting offenders.

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon District PSNI Commander, Superintendent David Moore said it is inevitable confirmation of the closure of the station in Tandragee will be disappointing for some, however the reality of modern policing is that it is delivered by people and not buildings.

"We will continue to provide a service that is reflective of the issues and concerns of the local community and we are grateful for the ongoing and active support of our residents.

Policing remains a 24 hours, seven days a week operation and we will continue to be there at people s time of need and in emergency situations. We can be contacted at any time of the day or night on either 101 or on 999 for emergencies.

Independent Unionist Councillor Paul Berry said whilst he appreciates Tandragee PSNI Station has been closed for a period of time now, it remains his view there is still a need for such a presence in the town.

"I have never supported the policy by the PSNI to close such stations as I feel that police should be local to the area and this next step is a retrograde step for local community policing.

"Local knowledge is always the best practice and now that the police have no longer a presence locally - this knowledge aspect, I personally believe, will be affected.

"Long gone are the days that people know their local sergeant and constables and I trust that the senior police will assure us of their plans to keep a presence locally.

"I do however acknowledge over recent weeks that the PSNI have been effective in apprehending criminals, but I still am strongly opposed to the selling of such stations," he added.

Meanwhile, DUP Assembly Member, William Irwin has welcomed the announcement of a 'new build' police station in Armagh City.

The Newry and Armagh representative said it is an important investment in policing in the District and it will be good to see Armagh getting a project such as this in the city environment .

The PSNI have also stated that the station at Tandragee, which has been closed now for some time, will be sold along with other unused stations and I would certainly have been concerned had the District not seen some fresh resources ploughed back into the police estate in the area, given the fact stations have been wound down in recent years.

"The fact that a new purpose built station will be constructed is therefore very welcome news.

It is also vital in response to the current spate of rural crime which has affected many areas in the District that, along with the new resources for the Armagh station project, we also see extra resources for the specific targeting of rural crime and also to the ongoing pattern of cross border criminal gangs targeting rural areas.


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