PSNI 'must tackle attacks on young'
More needs to be done to catch those responsible for more than 50 paramilitary attacks on young people in 18 months, the Policing Board has warned.
Almost half the 118 victims of beatings and shootings between April 2010 and September last year were under 25, according to the board's annual human rights assessment.
Members expressed concern that the police clearance rates for finding those responsible for such attacks languished at only 4%. Of all those people targeted in the 18-month period, 71 were assaulted and 47 were shot.
The board's seventh annual human rights report also summarised the extent of terrorist activity. Between April 2010 and March 2011, there were 72 shooting incidents and 99 recorded bomb incidents, while 86 firearms and 2,574 ammunition rounds were found and 2.9kg of explosives recovered in searches.
Conall McDevitt, chairman of the board's Human Rights and Professional Standards (HRPS) committee, said it was particularly worrying that so few perpetrators of paramilitary beatings and shootings were brought to justice.
"A key concern for the HRPS Committee is paramilitary-style assaults and shootings and the low clearance rate (4%) of this serious crime," said the SDLP representative, who noted that 44% of these attacks were against 16 to 24-year-olds.
"The board is recommending that the PSNI should consider what further measures are required to protect people from such attacks, and that the PSNI should develop a strategy for addressing attacks on children and young people, who are particularly vulnerable," he said.
Chief Constable Matt Baggott said overall the report endorsed the PSNI's approach to human rights policing. "Human rights are enshrined in every aspect of our work, from dealing with issues of local concern to those of national security and serious harm," he said.
"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues in the PSNI for their commitment to delivering a human rights centred policing service to all the people of Northern Ireland."
The report will be launched at the University Of Ulster Magee Campus with representatives from community, statutory and voluntary groups given an opportunity to question board members and the chief constable.