By Alan Rodgers
AN increasing number of PSNI officers will be patrolling on bicycles or holding surgeries in local villages as part of an ongoing revamp of policing, according to the new District Commander for the Fermanagh and Omagh area.
Superintendent Mervyn Seffen, who took over in the post in March, said the changing face of how his officers deal with the public is already becoming apparent.
“My neighbourhood teams are out doing what we call surgeries and identifying local businesses and premises that can facilitate that,” he added.
“That is something we are very anxious to do, where people can come and see us. I think that is really important, particularly given the rural area that we cover.
“I think the priorities within the community are about visibility, providing reassurance and dealing with the anti-social behaviour and the crimes that are affecting the people.
“It is that low level, constant crime which impacts on people the most. That is probably what I’m hearing the most when I’m out in the community.
“Our numbers have remained steady in the past few years, but we have increased neighbourhood police. There are now nine neighbourhood teams covering the district,” he added.
“And they are in full capacity at the moment dealing with local issues.”
At the moment, there are upwards on 10 police officers specificially assigned to what are known as ‘Neighbourhood Policing’ teams covering almost each of the Local Government Wards in the Fermanagh and Omagh area.
The comments of the District Commander were echoed by the Chief Constable, Simon Byrne, who said that patrolling on bicycles, which he hopes will become more prevalent, is providing his officers with a different perspective.
“We want to increase the number of officers we see patrolling on bikes and there is a real enthusiasm to do that,” he said.
“I enjoy going out on a bike myself on patrol and because it’s a little different it’s a conversation starter.
“That in itself is part of the dynamic that Mervyn (District Commander) is keen on when he talks about giving reassurance.”
“We know we’re going to have fewer officers, and we are committed, from a local point of view, to maintain the number of neighbourhood officers, and maintaining any number of officers who answer 999 calls.”
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