A private security firm is being employed to patrol Fermanagh’s crime hotspots.
Estates in County Fermanagh with high crime and anti-social behaviour rates are employing a private security firm to patrol the estates in an attempt to reduce low level crime in the areas.
The community safety wardens will carry out high visibility patrols in areas most likely to suffer from high crime rates to provide a link between residents and agencies such as the local council, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and the PSNI. The scheme, which is currently in a six month pilot phase will see two wardens work 40 hours a week, at night and at weekends and they can also be contacted by telephone.
The scheme is being run by Fermanagh and Omagh Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) and is currently operational in Enniskillen, Irvinestown and Lisnaskea. At present, the wardens patrol the streets on foot and in a clearly identifiable vehicle. They are jointly funded by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in the hope that any issue of concern to residents will be resolved quickly.
However, despite their presence the wardens do not have any enforcement powers and are only intended to help build trust and relationships with residents so that issues get reported and resolved quickly. If a problem was to persist, the wardens can bring it to the attention of the NIHE, the local council or the PSNI. The scheme is not designed to replace community policing, but the wardens will offer their support and complement other statutory agencies.
Speaking about the project, a spokeswoman for Fermanagh and Omagh district council revealed that the programme, which follows on from a successful eight week pilot programme trailed in 2014, started in mid-October 2015 and is funded until 31 March 2016.
The Chairwoman of Fermanagh and Omagh Policing Partnership, Sinn Féin councillor, Sorcha McAnespie explained that the wardens will help a highly pressured police force and prevent and diffuse problems before they get out of hand.
“The PSNI is probably under a lot of financial and resource pressure and strain at the minute, so this scheme should help to alleviate the pressure on them,” she said.
“It will also maybe prevent young people, getting criminal records, because if something is able to be stemmed before it starts, I think that a more sensible and straightforward approach is always better.”
PSNI Chief Inspector, Joe McMinn, is enthusiastic about the project.
“We recognise the valuable contribution that community safety wardens will make to the community in Fermanagh and appreciate the role they play in providing support to those who frequent the area,” says McMinn.
“Community Safety Wardens will form an important link between residents, businesses and a number of statutory agencies, improving access to various support and advice services to help reduce low-level crime and anti-social behaviour. We will continue to work with the community safety wardens and ensure that Fermanagh is a safe place for everyone to live, work and visit.”