Lower Falls police team in 4-mile move

By Francesca Ryan

Residents of the lower Falls say they feel they are being abandoned by the PSNI amid a new restructuring drive in the West of the city.

Their local neighbourhood policing team is being transferred next month from the nearby Grosvenor Road station to Woodbourne station four miles away.

Speaking on behalf of St Mary’s Community Group, which covers the streets around Hamill Street and Barrack Street, Seán Fryers said there is a real fear among residents that an already inadequate policing service is set to deteriorate with the move. It comes less than a month after police were bitterly criticised by residents and community groups for their failure to tackle death-driving on the Falls Road on New Year’s Eve. The move also calls into question the future role of the Grosvenor station.

“We have been told by the police that neighbourhood policing teams and emergency response units are being moved to Woodbourne in February,” he said.

“We feel this area is being abandoned by the police restructuring effort.

“At the minute they are just 400 metres away and the service is inadequate at times. What will it be like when they are at the other end of the district?  How long will it take them to get to Divis from there when they can’t do it efficiently already?

“This is no good for the lower Falls and we have spoken with Sinn Féin’s Fra McCann and Paul Maskey to relay our concerns. People down here are not happy.”

Matt Garrett, Chair of the West Belfast Policing and Community Safety Partnership, said: “We understand the PSNI have been letting residents know that under a restructuring and efficiency drive, neighbourhood teams will be based in one station, Woodbourne.

“We know residents have raised concerns, especially in the lower Falls, about response times.

“The police are saying there should be no impact on response times but the reality is that they will be based a fair distance from the lower Falls.

“Given the impact of bad policing over Christmas, we want to know the details and we will be holding further meetings with the PSNI to look at the new restructuring and to make sure the service is adequate across West Belfast. Adequate response times and adequate services are high on the agenda at the minute and nothing should be allowed to affect that.”

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