OPINION remains sharply divided in Castlederg over the future of the town’s police station after 100 people attended a public meeting on the potential closure of the structure on Wednesday night.
The site has been earmarked as one of 34 stations selected by the PSNI as potential candidates for closure, as it attempts to implement £135 million of savings between now and 2015. Stations in Fintona and Beragh have also been earmarked to shut.
Only 100 people visited the station last year, which costs over £120,000 annually to maintain. On Wednesday night around the same number of people attended a public consultation meeting in Derg Valley Leisure Centre, chaired by the PSNI’s commander of the Strabane area, Chief Inspector Andy Lemon.
Chief Inspector Lemon assured those present that should the station shut, Castlederg will continue to be policed at the present levels. “The current level of policing will not diminish in any shape or form,” he stated.
The neighbourhood policing team (NPT) tasked to Castlederg includes one sergeant, four permanent constables, two constable secondments along with five part-time officers. The NPT team are also responsible for the Newtownstewart, Plumbridge and surrounding area.
Denying that the decision to close the site had already been made, the chief inspector revealed that the PSNI received 46,000 calls for police assistance across the whole Strabane district in 2010/11, of which, 1,346 were crimes. Of those 46,000 calls, 6,928 were from Castlederg, of which, 239 were crimes.