New PCSP body hit by Assembly budget cuts

Pictured at a recent induction event are some of the newly appointed members of Mid and East Antrim PCSP. INLT-27-679-CON
Pictured at a recent induction event are some of the newly appointed members of Mid and East Antrim PCSP. INLT-27-679-CON

The borough’s new Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) is expected to hold its inaugural meeting next month.

With all 19 members of Mid and East Antrim PCSP having been selected, it was anticipated that the body would be fully operational by the start of June.

But due to budget constraints at Assembly level, there have been issues surrounding the release of funding.

The Joint Committee of the NI Policing Board and the Department of Justice have only permitted the release of 50 per cent of the PCSP’s budget for the year 2015/16.

In a report presented to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s monthly meeting on Monday, councillors heard that this figure amounted to £170,013, which is to be used towards expenditure deemed to be “contracted and inescapable”.

The council’s contribution detailed in the PCSP action plan budget is £75,633.

The report stated: “Prorating the council contribution by 50 per cent for the period to the end of September results in a match funding contribution of £37,816.50, ie, a total budget for the PCSP for the six months up to September of £207,829.”

Members were asked to approve arrangements for the first meeting of the PCSP on August 26, and also to agree to rotate meetings of the PCSP across the borough, with the first meeting to be held in Ballymena.

The aim of the PCSP is to engage with and empower communities, helping local people to develop solutions in partnership to tackle crime, fear of crime and anti-social behaviour.

A total of 72 independent members have been selected for the 11 new PCSPs across Northern Ireland.

The nine independent members in Mid and East Antrim range from a retired police officer and a lawyer, to a charity worker and a house wife.

Welcoming the new members onto the PCSPs, Policing Board chair Anne Connolly said: “PCSPs continue to play an important role in local policing as they work with local communities and the PSNI to help make communities safer.

“The new PCSP members bring a wide range of skills and experience to this important element of policing accountability.

“All those appointed have demonstrated the ability to engage effectively and have shown a commitment to ensuring that the voice of their community is heard.

“The new-look councils and new structure for PCSPs will bring fresh challenges and opportunities for the partnerships.”

Meanwhile, of the 10 political representatives on the Mid and East Antrim body, half are DUP councillors, with two Ulster Unionists and one member each from Alliance, TUV and Sinn Fein.

Representatives from seven statutory bodies also sit on the partnership, including the PSNI, Housing Executive, Fire and Rescue Service, Probation Board, Northern Health and Social Care Trust, Education Authority and Youth Justice Agency.