David Ford and local Alliance councillors have met the local Chief Inspector and his team to talk about local policing concerns in the area.
The delegation included Newtownabbey Councillors Billy Webb, Lynn Frazer, John Blair and Pat McCudden.
David Ford said, “I was pleased to hear that overall levels of crime figures are significantly down in the Newtownabbey area.
“This demonstrates the good local policing in the area and I was pleased to hear the positive feedback.
“I congratulate both the neighbourhood and response teams for the work they are doing.
“However, I am not pleased to say that a large section of our meeting was taken up discussing the continuing flags issue.
“It is clear to me that the lack of clarity coming from political leaders is frustrating to police officers.
“I was dismayed to hear that the time devoted to dealing with residents’ concerns about flags is holding the police back from carrying out the good work laid out in the local district policing plan.
“We need to support the police in their efforts to answer residents’ concerns.
“We need to see the First Minister and Deputy First Minister come up with a clear and strong protocol on flags, but there is clear resistance coming from certain parties, holding us all back.
“However, I was heartened with the agreement between my local party colleagues and the Chief Inspector to involve the new PCSPs more closely in attempts to improve the situation by this time next year.
“The vast majority of people in Newtownabbey want to see the misuse of flags stamped out”.
Ballyclare Councillor Pat McCudden said, “A lack of clarity leads to situations like those in Ballyclare in 2011.
“Residents from all sections of the community are constantly contacting me because they are feeling intimidated by the surge in flags.
“It is clear this is a minority of individuals trying to test police authority.
“We need to assist the local police officers in addressing the flags issue”.