PSNI outlines 'biggest policing changes in years'
The Police Service of Northern Ireland has said it is to implement the "biggest shake-up" in policing in years due to budget cuts and council changes.
Among the changes is the abolishment of response teams, which are currently the first line of response to about 80% of calls from the public.
They are to be replaced by neighbourhood policing teams.
The PSNI's budget was cut by £38m this year, and could be higher again next year.
Other changes include moving from seven policing districts to 11.
It has made the move to accommodate forthcoming council boundary changes.
Northern Ireland's 26 local councils are to be consolidated into 11 super councils on 1 April and the PSNI is required to reflect the new boundaries.
The PSNI said the 11 new policing districts would be "leaner and more streamlined".
The revised command structure was outlined by ACC Stephen Martin, the senior officer responsible for district policing.
"What we're doing is developing a new model of policing to use our resources in the most efficient and effective way," he said.
"This reorganisation will keep neighbourhood policing firmly at the core of all our service, when people need us we will be there."
On the subject of the response teams, he said: "We're replacing them with neighbourhood policing teams, which, in our view in the new context that we face, will be more flexible, more agile.
"We're going to encourage officers to be more invested in the local community - all officers, not just neighbourhood policing team officers - will be expected to develop an ownership of particular geography."
He said that because the changes were being made at a time of budget cuts, the PSNI could not "simply replicate our existing district structures, taking into account our reducing resources".
While, the overall number of neighbourhood policing teams (NPTs) will be cut back, ACC Martin said the police would be investing in local policing teams (LPTs) that will have a similar ethos.
The NPTs that remain are to be concentrated in areas that have higher levels of crime and deprivation.
"There will be a mixture of 25 local policing teams and over 30 neighbourhood policing teams across Northern Ireland as well as local detectives in each district," ACC Martin said.
"We recognise this represents a reduction to the current number of NPTs across Northern Ireland, however the LPTs are an exciting development."
ACC Martin said LPTs would employ "more policing with the community style than the previous response teams".