Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Matt Baggott bats away claims he's soft on loyalist terrorists

Outgoing PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott and outgoing Assistant Chief Constable Judith Gillespie share a joke at Thursday's Policing Board meeting
Outgoing PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott and outgoing Assistant Chief Constable Judith Gillespie share a joke at Thursday's Policing Board meeting

The Chief Constable has slammed critics who claim the PSNI is not tackling loyalist paramilitaries.

Matt Baggott also hit back at those blaming the police for using a "soft approach" in attempt to crack down on rioting in Belfast.

Speaking in front of the Policing Board at Clarendon Dock yesterday, the police chief said the accusations were not true.

"Any concern that somehow we are not in amongst these groups tackling them is not right, it is wrong. We are relentless in the pursuit of anybody who is involved in paramilitary activity.

"Between 2009 and 2013, assisted by some of the extra money from the Treasury, paramilitary assaults and shootings conducted by loyalist paramilitaries has reduced by 300%. compared to the three years 2003 through to 2007. There have been a significant number of people linked to loyalist paramilitaries who have been charged for offences ranging from possession and supply of drugs, extortion, and blackmail.

"Recently we've made a number of seizures. Tens of thousands of pounds worth of cash, drugs, loaded firearms, stun guns, shotguns, and BB guns.

"Our work in any paramilitary activity is relentless and I know there is a concern sometimes in the media that there is a disparate approach, but there isn't. We will tackle paramilitary activity whenever and wherever it comes from."

The Chief Constable went on to defend the policing operation following disruption on the streets of Belfast after the Union flag vote at Belfast City Hall.

"In January last year I made it clear that there will be consequences for people who are involved in disorder. I've had a number of comments, ranging from how timid we've been through to a soft approach," he said.

"It's not true; it's been a measured, legal, lawful, human rights approach and the number of people charged or reported is 641.

"That is not timid, that world-class policing, and we will continue to bring people to justice who bring riots to our streets."

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