Belfast Telegraph

Crackdown on paramilitaries sees nearly 100 arrests

A police crackdown on paramilitaries has produced nearly 100 arrests.

A total of 66 were charged or reported to prosecutors, chief constable George Hamilton said.

A Paramilitary Crime Taskforce is being established to target the organised criminals.

The chief constable said: "The fear and misery caused in our communities by paramilitaries is unacceptable and should not be tolerated."

Extra funding has been made available following the 2015 Fresh Start Agreement at Stormont.

Mr Hamilton added: "Tackling this problem has always been a priority for the PSNI and the funding made available through Fresh Start now allows us to build a dedicated team of experts to deal with all forms of criminality linked to paramilitarism, including paramilitary style assaults, extortion, intimidation, drug dealing and money laundering."

He said the anti-paramilitaries team had developed incrementally during 2016/2017 and with the support of the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), investigations so far had resulted in just under 100 arrests and 200 searches, with 66 people being charged or reported to the Public Prosecution Service.

Around £450,000 of criminal assets have been seized or restrained including more than £157,000 in cash, drugs with an estimated street value of around £230,000 and other goods including a Range Rover and a number of mobile food stalls.

A number of guns, including a machine gun, as well as ammunition and pipe bombs, have also been seized.

The chief constable added: "We are now preparing to step up the pressure as we make our final preparations towards co-locating with our colleagues in the NCA and HMRC to form a new multi-disciplinary team - known as the Paramilitary Crime Taskforce - which will allow for a dedicated investigative partnership that will apply a long-term and consistent focus on paramilitary groups.

"This will be complemented by our Policing with the Community Project which will see officers working with communities to end paramilitary crime."

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