Dungiven police station decision due next month

The future of Dungiven Police Station and whether it should close could be known as early as next month, the Policing Board has said.

The future of the Main Street station was part of the ongoing review of Police Estate across the PSNI, and consultation took place with various parties in the Dungiven area over a six-week period.

Following that, PSNI Area Commander Sam Donaldson drafted a report to reflect the views put forward during consultation.

Now that consultation has been completed, a Policing Board spokesperson said: “The Board is scheduled to consider proposals at the May Board meeting.”

The final report, compiled by Chief Inspector Donaldson has been seen by the ‘Journal’. In that, Chief. Insp. Donaldson gives a detailed breakdown of responses from interested parties, and what happened at two public meetings.

“In general terms, there was a mixed response as a result of the consultation which could be summarised into both political and geographical categories,” he wrote in the report. “Politicians who represent the vast majority of people in Dungiven town and indeed members of the public living in the town, are of the view that the station adds little value to the local community and should be disposed of. Many view the station as a legacy of the troubles. A contrary view was forthcoming from more rural communities and their political representatives, who strongly advocated that station functionality could be developed by improving the image (softening the appearance, for example by lowering the fencing) and increasing/altering the opening hours. They did not wish to see the station close.”

During a private meeting with Limavady DPP members, “there were again mixed views about the future of the station and indeed the site, however there was a unanimous expression from those present that disposal should not permit a vacuum of engagement to develop and that, in particular, an alternative to the station by way of a “cop shop” or joint services facility should be in place before police would leave the site on a permanent basis,” stated Mr. Donaldson. “In other words, a facility for the area was absolutely necessary to continue engagement, but that it should be in place as soon as practicable. DPP colleagues also expressed concern that any savings made by PSNI as a result of potential disposal, should, if at all possible, be returned to the area for local investment in tackling crime and improving community safety.”

The Area Commander said there was “a tremendous amount of commendation for the ongoing work of police in the Dungiven area and in particular for the neighbourhood officers”.

“Politicians, DPP members and the community in general, consistently commented on the relationships that continued to develop in the area and the giant strides that had been taken in the community,” he stated. “Regardless of the decision on the station’s future, we will continue to build on this foundation.”

In all, more than 80 letters were sent by the PSNI to interested local parties inviting them to submit their views on the future of the station, including politicians, community groups, local bars and clergy. Responses were submitted by a number of groups, including politicial parties including the SDLP, Sinn Fein, the DUP and the TUV.

The annual cost to run the station is £74,645, police have revealed. The estimated market value is £150,000 while estimated decommissioning costs are £45,000.