City Centre Beat Initiative Celebrates 10th Anniversary

City Centre Beat Initiative Celebrates 10th Anniversary

City Centre Beat Initiative Celebrates 10th Anniversary

The Justice Minister today (Thursday 19th February 2015) joined with Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce and Belfast City Centre Management, and their business partners, to celebrate the achievements of the City Centre Beat initiative.

At the 10th Anniversary Celebration Event in Belfast City Hall Justice Minister, David Ford said:

I would like to commend the PSNI, the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Belfast City Centre Management and their partners for their achievements over the last ten years”

“This valuable partnership between the police and the business and retail sector demonstrates that by working together we can address the challenges that face us in making Belfast a safe and prosperous city for all citizens and visitors.

Belfast Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon congratulated all involved with the City Centre Beat Initiative and congratulated them on their achievements in the last decade.

“Making our city centre a safe and welcoming space is important for Belfast,” she said.  “Locals and visitors value the fact that they can enjoy all our city has to offer and feel reassured that they do so in a safe environment”.

Chief Inspector Robert Murdie explains how the initiative evolved and the issues that officers have been focusing on:

“The City Centre Beat Initiative was developed in partnership with businesses, over ten years ago, to improve people’s experience and perceptions of Belfast City Centre.  Two dedicated police officers work with businesses, transport providers and other agencies, to enhance feelings of safety and thereby creating a safer, more attractive environment. 

“The officers focus on issues such as; eradicating illegal street trading, challenging all forms of anti-social behaviour, facilitating the flow of public transport around the city centre, contributing to the co-ordinated approach to managing  those suffering from chronic social need and tackling aspects such as criminal damage.”

In terms of interventions and outcomes, since 2005 the two officers have visited 18,149 businesses and retailers.  In Year One of the initiative there were 140 incidents of recorded vandalism while in Year Nine this decreased to 37 recorded incidents.  Similarly there has been a notable decrease in recorded incidents of graffiti with 1,263 incidents recorded in Year One and 171 for the financial year to date.  Over the course of the initiative the officers have also dealt with 3,308 referrals from Translink.

 Gordon McElroy, Belfast Chamber of Trade & Commerce said: “The partnership which the Chamber has enjoyed with the PSNI for the past ten years has been paramount in making Belfast a better place to work, live and visit. 

"Chamber members have, and will continue to benefit from the scheme by having direct mobile phone access to the two officers who are solely deployed in Belfast city centre, this, along with the physical presence of the officers, and their ability to be at a business premise within minutes is crucial to the city’s commerce."

Gordon concluded: "The PSNI Belfast Beat officers have to be commended for the role they play in managing and reducing these instances, making Belfast a safer and more attractive city for everyone.”

Andrew Irvine, City Centre Manager added: “The City Centre is Belfast’s ‘shop window’. People who live, work and visit should feel safe while going about their business.  It must provide welcoming streets free from anti-social behaviour. 

“Over the past 10 years, the City Centre Beat initiative has been crucial in achieving that goal.   By showing that Belfast is a safe place to do business, we will convey a strong and positive message to potential investors and visitors and maximise the opportunity for economic growth.”

Andrew concluded: “This initiative is an excellent example of the private and public sectors working together to tackle a shared problem and will contribute to the overall drive to make Belfast a safe and attractive place for everyone”.

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