Politics undermining policing progress

The BBC report of the announcement today that 2 of the 8 PSNI stations, the future of which the public was being consulted on, are to remain open exemplifies the problems still faced by policing here.From the initial recommendation by Hugh Orde that they should close, to the process of a public consultation, and the continued resistance to movement on this issue by, in this example, the DUP MLA Arlene Foster –

“I remain gravely concerned about the closure of other stations,” she said.

“Particularly at a time when terrorist and criminal activity is still a serious threat.”

It’s a resistance echoed by the, frankly, far more sinister comments of the Sinn Féin Member of Parliament Michelle Gildernew.. who equates police stations to spy bases within communities –

“The majority of nationalists do not want these spy bases in their communities.”

and both are unchallenged by the acceptance of the compromise by the SDLP MLA Alex Atwood

“This is the right balance.”

All this combines to re-inforce the view of policing as just another political bargaining chip – rather than a required public service to counter criminal activity, being deployed in the most effective manner possible.

Btw, the elevation of the ubiquitous community representatives to the status of a semi-official police force can be seen to be yet another example of the, NIO endorsed, increasing, not decreasing, politicisation of policing.