Belfast Telegraph

Almost 50% of police stations facing closure

By Jonathan McCambridge
21 January 2005

The dilapidated state of Northern Ireland's police buildings was revealed today, with 13 operational stations more than 100 years old.

Another 54 of the province's 135 stations are now over 50 years old, it has also been revealed.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton unveiled the force's £200m Estate Strategy for the next five years today which will see almost half of current operational stations earmarked for possible closure.

The plan, which was presented today to the Policing Board's finance and general purposes committee, also includes plans for new police stations in Ballymoney, Cookstown, Craigavon, Downpatrick, Omagh and Musgrave Street in Belfast.

There will also be a commitment in the plan to reduce fortifications at stations and make them more user friendly to the public.

It has long been known that senior officers want to reduce the number of police buildings.

Mr Leighton said the Estates Strategy would inevitably lead to the closure of some stations.

He said that a review list of 61 stations had been drawn up with decisions to be taken on their future in consultation with local communities.

The strategy has been influenced by proposed cuts in the PSNI annual budget in coming years and the cost of staffing and securing a number of part-time stations which are seldom open.

It has also been influenced by a reduction in the number of officers and the proposed reduction of the number of local council areas.

Senior officers believe that the closure of stations will free up officers to take part in other duties.

Mr Leighton said: "The strategy is part of our continuing drive to use all of our resources, whether that means officers, staff, equipment and buildings in the most effective and efficient way.

"It will help us develop an estate which is fit for purpose."

There are currently 135 police stations and 56 other police establishments in Northern Ireland.

Fifty-seven of those stations are open 24 hours, 71 are limited opening and seven are designated lock and leave.

Thirteen of the buildings are more than 100 years old and 54 are more than 50 years old.

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