52 PSNI officers forced out of homes by paramilitary threats
Threats from paramilitary organisations have forced 52 PSNI officers to leave their homes over the past seven years, the chairman of the Police Federation Mark Lindsay has said.
The figures from the PSNI, first published in the Irish Times, show that nine officers were required to find new accommodation in 2016, with three new officer forced out of their homes this year.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Lindsay said: "It does peak and trough depending on where the terrorist threat is coming from.
"Obviously all police officers are very aware of their own personal security, careful with friends, careful with their social lives, how they conduct themselves on social media, things like checking their vehicle. Trying to minimise anything that would identify them as a police officer."
Mr Linsday said that the PSNI would have "very good working relationships" with police forces from other parts of the United Kingdom, and that other regional police bodies would not have to "deal with the same level of threats".
If a viable threat to an officer is made, the person is able to apply for support from the Special Purchase of Evacuated Dwellings (SPED) scheme, which allows authorities to buy the homes of people who have been intimidated.
The scheme is also available to civilians.
Mr Lindsay pointed out that potential threats are something that police officers must be aware of out of uniform, and even after they leave active duty.
"I think it is worth pointing out as well that this isn't something that just ends when you retire," he added.
"For many officers it is something that follows them into retirement then as well."
Since the PSNI was formed in 2001, 13 officers have been killed on duty.
Earlier this year a memorial garden recording the names of the officers was opened by Prince Charles during a special ceremony at the PSNI's Belfast headquarters.
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In March officers in Strabane narrowly escaped injury when a roadside bomb detonated as officers were patrolling the area.
In January, dissident republican group the New IRA claimed responsibility for the shooting of a PSNI community officer at a Edenderry filling station on the Crumlin Road.
Belfast Telegraph Digital