SDLP Councillor Michael Coyle believes the future of policing in Dungiven will be best served by officers being based in some type of “cop shop” in the town.
The Dungiven councillor was speaking after touring inside Dungiven station on Tuesday with a DPP delegation as part of a police consultation.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ afterwards, he said: “It was surprising how well the station was kept. The difficulty is that it’s fit for purpose as a police station, but very little else. It was revamped some years ago to deal with attacks and, as such, is a fortress and very uninviting.
“The problem is that if it is sold and handed over to another group or body, the costs of levelling it will be enormous. The other thing is when you look around Dungiven and see how many empty buildings there are who, in their right mind, would go into the police station when there are other buildings which could be adapted more easily and made more friendly?”
Colr. Coyle said he believed the station, once the consultation about its potential future use is complete, will close.
“That’s my gut feeling, but what they will do with it I have no idea and I believe the Policing Board don’t know either, which is why they have done the public consultation. I think they realise there is no market for it and have tried to create a bit of a market for it by doing the consultation. The one thing coming through the consultation is that people in Dungiven are happy to have a police service in the town. Ideally you want a building of some sort and, for practical reasons, the police need something, some sort of base. Should it be a cop shop, a rented premises or a room that is leased? It’s all still up for debate. I would prefer to have officers in a cop shop and in high visibility vests on the Main Street in Dungiven, but I realise there is still a threat by dissidents and that police are not accepted by everyone. There is no one answer for the police or the local community. The police want to be here and provide a service but, for security reasons, for themselves and people who come to visit them, the issue of security must be considered.”
He added: “The majority of the community in Dungiven have changed their attitudes towards the police service and see it as being good and are seeing police officers as part of the community and who they can take issues to.” It really is a difficult one all round.”