The PSNI is to be asked to look again at its opening hours in Armagh – and accused of using budget cuts “as an excuse when it suited”.
The accusation was levelled by a DUP councillor at the February meeting of Armagh Council’s public services committee.
The opening hours at Armagh PSNI station were cut back to just 12 hours a day, between 8am and 8pm, from New Year’s Day.
But Councillor Lavelle McIlwrath insists this is not sufficient.
He has asked that the PSNI rethink the situation and remain open longer, even until 1opm.
Council Chief Executive John Briggs pointed out that, at the same committee meeting in December, it had been requested that contact be made with the local Chief Inspector and that he be invited to a meeting to hear councillors views.
Mr Briggs said the Chief Inspector had indicated that decisions on opening hours were “outside his authority” and it had been suggested that council contact the Chief Constable if desired.
Councillor McIlwrath said the matter had already been discussed at Policing and Community Safety Partnership meetings, where it had been suggested that Chief Superintendent Pauline Shields be invited to deliver a presentation.
He remarked that, although the PSNI advised that the figures did not justify longer opening hours, he believed people required the service after 8pm, even for issues such as producing their driving licences.
Councillor McIlwrath said he understood that additional funding had been included in the policing budget and remarked that the PSNI “seemed to be using cutbacks as an excuse when it suited”.
He said he also understood that the local Chief Inspector had advised that the PSNI would consider parades and other events held after 8pm on an individual basis.
The DUP suggested that perhaps the local station should remain open after 10pm, and it was agreed that a letter be sent to the Chief Constable requesting an extension to opening hours for Armagh PSNI Station.
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