The chair of the South Belfast sub-group of the District Policing Partnership (DPP) has defended the body after we revealed it had failed to meet half its targets set by the Policing Board this year.

Two weeks ago, the SBN told how the sub-group was unsuccessful in following seven of the 14 guidelines in the ‘DPP Effectiveness Framework’ for the financial year 2010/11.

They included not providing its local policing priorities to the Policing Board and area commander by the set deadline, as well as not engaging with at least two “hard to reach/not previously engaged’ community groups and not increasing the public attendance at meetings.

But now sub-group chair Deirdre Hargey has hit back, saying “administrative errors” were to blame for many of the failures and pledging to ensure this year’s targets were met.

“Our priorities for last year had not been submitted on time in keeping with the deadline. This was cause for much deliberation in an effort by members to ensure due consideration was given in identifying the priorities. These were agreed on September 28, however, due to an administrative error they were received late by the board.

“I’m also disappointed that despite adverts having been placed in the local press, the council’s magazine and invites being extended via the DPP electronic database, low attendances were recorded at their meetings in public.

“We have varied venues and themed a number of meetings to encourage greater attendance. This year we have also used leaflet drops around areas where we are holding meetings in public in an effort to further encourage active participation in meetings from members of the local community.”

Although the sub-group had not provided the Policing Board with its annual consultation report by the set time of October 31, 2010, Ms Hargey said the report had in fact been completed and approved at a private meeting on October 21.

However, she said due to an “administrative error” it was not forwarded to the board by the deadline. She added that this year’s report had been competed on time and was forwarded to the board before the deadline.

Ms Hargey also defended the other failures, saying although an attendance rate of 75 per cent was not met by members, mitigating situations had brought the figure down. I’m disappointed that the target was not achieved but it was only just missed, with an average attendance of 70 per cent recorded among the sub-group. It should also be noted that as an average figure is taken, poor attendance figures of a few members, often through extenuating personal circumstances, brings down the average figure. I also contend that although the board has identified us as not having engaged with at least two hard to reach community groups, we indeed met that target as we had meetings with victims of domestic violence and young people.”