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Concerns aired over people 'stopped three times a day'

By Michael McHugh

Published 15/02/2016


Some people complained of being stopped and searched by police in Northern Ireland up to two or three times a day, security powers reviewer David Seymour has said.

Police said only 0.03% of the population was stopped more than once. Mr Seymour said concerns were largely confined to Londonderry and Strabane in the west and north Belfast.

He said: "The concern was that the powers under the Justice and Security Act were being abused, no redress was available, and the local community was being punished."

He added in general terms the allegations related to individuals being stopped and searched many times a year, sometimes two or three times a day.

Children aged under 16 were reportedly being stopped and searched, people were being stopped and searched near schools in front of children, people were being stopped and searched because of their association with dissident republicans, and people were being stopped and searched when going about their daily business, he said.

He noted claims that inappropriate remarks were made by the police during a stop and search; some houses had been repeatedly searched over a period of time; seized property, including computers and laptops, was not being returned promptly; and munitions were never found following a stop and search. Mr Seymour said the PSNI understood the use of these powers had the potential to alienate communities and therefore make their job more difficult.

He added: "However, they have a legal obligation to keep people safe and they focus the use of these powers, based on intelligence, on known dissident republicans who are planning attacks involving the use of munitions.

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