MLA taken to task over ‘demoralising’ statements on ‘powerless’ Larne PSNI

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I REFER to the article in last week’s paper (Larne Times, May 17) in which you report the comments made by Oliver McMullan, MLA, about the state of crime in Larne where ”mob rule exists and a police force powerless to combat it” are present.

Where do these facts come from? These comments do not refer to the borough in which I live, not the police force with whom I have been working in partnership as a Larne resident over many years.

He continues: “I have met with the PSNI on numerous occasions the hope that these criminals would be tackled but promises have not been met ... due to the fact that unionist paramilitaries are involved ... it is now time that there is a review of the policing in Larne”.

If this is the case, how is it that Larne has one of the lowest crime rates in the Province and the latest statistics show that Larne had even further lowered its crime rate?

The article states the overall crime in ‘H’ district had increased by 0.5 per cent, however this includes Coleraine, Ballymena, Ballymoney and Moyle as well as Larne where the actual individual crime rate has had the greatest decrease.

Larne is an area of 120 square miles, stretching from Garron Point to Islandmagee. With community cooperation, the police have been successful in decreasing rural crime, detecting and seizing huge amounts of drugs, pioneering police surgeries in Larne schools and working with young people of all abilities in youth clubs, arranging roadshows in schools and advising many community groups about domestic violence, drugs and alcohol abuse.

Last week, I attended a meeting of the Larne Tuesday Group where a neighbourhood police officer spoke to members about a pilot style of police surgery where they go to Larne High School and engage there with young people about any issues or concerns they may have and this has now been working successfully for over a year.

This pioneering police work has now been extended to Larne Grammar School.

This successful pioneering work is what Larne police do. Remember too, because of the recession, Larne police force has suffered manning cuts. To combat this they introduced experimental shift pattern coverage for the area to ensure maximum police officer presence in Larne, yet they still achieved targets set for them, as monitored and verified by the District Policing Partnership, of which I was vice-chairman.

How demoralising it is for local police officers to see such statements made about them in the Press.

It is highly irresponsible for a local MLA to make such negative and incorrect statements in the Press, raising fear among local Larne residents. Of course there unfortunately is crime in Larne but not to the extent quoted by Mr McMullan and it is up to us all to work and assist the police in detecting crime and giving evidence to them on which convictions can be made.

Our local politicians should be making constructive comments and be working themselves to help the police in their fight against crime.

Patricia E McNeill