The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed a firm commitment from senior PSNI officers that policing in rural areas and the confidence of rural dwellers in that policing will remain a priority in the coming shake-up of the policing structure.
The comments were made following the PSNI’s announcement on the changes to District Policing in Northern Ireland and a statement made by the PSNI’s ACC Stephen Martin on the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster radio programme.
Ulster Farmers’ Union president Ian Marshall said: “When the news of the impending budgetary pressures for the Department of Justice (DOJ) broke last year, we were very concerned that this would lead to a reduction in police presence, particularly in rural areas where the larger geographical area means that officers there are already spread thin.
“We have been pleased to see a concerted effort on the part, firstly of DOJ to ensure that the impact on policing would be mitigated as much as possible; and secondly, on the part of the PSNI themselves to come up with creative and sustainable solutions.”
The new structure of the PSNI will see the number of policing Districts increased from seven to 11 – mirroring the new “super-councils”. As well as this, Response Teams will no longer exist, being replaced with 25 Local Policing Teams and over 30 Neighbourhood Policing Teams, as well as local District detectives.
Mr Marshall continued: “The continued focus on local and neighbourhood policing is a great relief and is something we’ve been pressing the PSNI for for a considerable amount of time. We believe that this will lead to improved personal relationships on the ground between members of the public and the officers responsible for their safety, and building these relationships will lead to the increased confidence in policing that is sought.
“We will be following the development of the new policing teams closely and will continue to work with the PSNI to ensure that rural crime and rural policing services are treated as a priority,” he added.