With a month to go before the UDA is supposed to start giving up guns to preserve a loyalist peace fund, a senior PSNI officer said there are no indications the group is ready to start decommissioning.
Assistant Chief Constable Peter Sheridan told the Policing Board yesterday there is "no prospect of early decommissioning" by the UDA.
Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie has given the UDA until October 9 to start decommissioning or she will cut off a £1.2m fund for their political advisers.
But loyalist sources have indicated the UDA is not prepared to give up its guns - and Mr Sheridan's remarks to the Board underlined the belief that they are digging in.
Mr Sheridan, in charge of police intelligence, also said the UDA's greatest threat is for " conflict within its own ranks".
But Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde repeated the PSNI's belief that the UDA was behind the serious rioting that led to Ms Ritchie's deadline.
Sir Hugh told the Board's meeting in Belfast that two UDA gunmen had fired seven shots at officers during the unrest in Bangor's Kilcooley estate on August 1.
He said police vehicles were "close to destruction" when they were attacked, "in which case we would have had officers dragged out" by the mob.
However, he said the tar-and-feather attack in Belfast last week was an "isolated" incident.
Despite reports that the UDA was behind that assault, Sir Hugh described it as "local action rather than organised action by any paramilitary group".
He said the victim of the attack - who was tied to a lamp-post and then had hot tar poured over his head, followed by feathers - "has not been positively identified".
The Chief Constable described the attack as a one-off that seemed "so stark because it was a throw-back" to the violent scenes of the seventies.
However, he said the Kilcooley rioting had been "extremely violent" and he described it as "a concerted attack".
"The level of violence was at the top end," he told Board members.
Sir Hugh said the rioting was organised by the UDA in response to a major investigation by police, believed to concern drug dealing.