Neighbourhood police officers are coming under increasing threat as dissidents attempt to make areas too hostile for them to enter, it has been warned.
But officers have vowed they will not allow the threat to prevent them from continuing their policing work within republican communities.
Three pipe-bombs, used in attacks against officers, were discovered in the Colinglen Road area on the outskirts of west Belfast during searches on Friday. Two weeks before an officer narrowly escaped serious facial injuries after a pipe-bomb was thrown at police as they responded to a hoax call in nearby Poleglass.
Safety concerns for neighbourhood policing teams are particularly high at the moment, especially after a police officer working in the Lisburn area is believed to have been tailed to his home by dissidents.
A DUP Policing Board member has warned that dissident cells in west Belfast are planning “something very big”.
Jonathan Craig said: “You can clearly see what the dissidents are at — they want to destroy the success of community policing. We can't allow this cancer to grow and I appeal to communities not to let these groups force out the neighbourhood officers who are working to improve your areas.”
One neighbourhood officer added: “We are all aware of the threat. We will not let a small number of people take away all we have already achieved, nor will they prevent us from continuing that work.”