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Rising burglary rate could see new manned alarm system installed free of charge in Newry district

Clients would pay 'minimal' charge to sign up to scheme which would be introduced after a phone support network for victims of crime ends in March


A telephone support network for victims of crime across Newry, Mourne and Down is expected to cease when the current contract runs out at the end of March.

But a new ‘social alarm system’ – or something similar – would then be introduced instead.

It will, that is, if Newry, Mourne and Down District Council’s PCSP and policing committee agree.

The telephone support network – which costs £15,000 a year to run – will end on March 31.

The recommendation has been made after an assessment of findings associated with a number of safety and security services operating within the district.

A community safety warden scheme – for which Talon Security has the contract – will be renewed for at least another year, at a cost of £53,000.

And a contract for a ‘home secure’ scheme for vulnerable members of the community – currently held by the Confederation of Voluntary Groups – is also being extended. It costs £35,000 a year to operate.

The telephone support network had also been run by the Confederation of Voluntary Groups but it will end after March.

The social alarm system to be looked at would be aimed at addressing the fear of crime.

It would allow individuals – particularly the elderly and more vulnerable in the community – to feel safer and more secure in their own home.

According to a report going to Tuesday’s committee: “It will add considerable value to the home secure scheme and should be considered within the context of an increasing rate of burglary and attempted burglary across the district.

“The scheme will provide and install alarm systems connected to a call centre with 24-hour monitoring via a low cost telephone connection.

“The client, through the installed systems, will be given the ability and option to seek immediate help and assistance from an identified contact or family member.”

The system would be provided, installed and maintained free of charge for the lifetime of the alarm recipient, who would then pay what is described as a “minimal monthly monitoring charge” to be part of the scheme.

Council has been told that a similar initiative – to which some 200 are signed up – operates in the Fermanagh and Omagh Council area at a cost of £17,000 a year.

The matter will be looked at on Tuesday and the recommendations from committee will then go to full council early next month to be ratified.

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