Dozens of police officers in Northern Ireland have had to beef up security at their homes in the past three years due to the continuing threat from dissident republicans.
Some even had to move house in the face of the terrorist threat, according to the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI).
The latest edition of Police Beat, the Federation’s magazine — due to be published this week and seen by the Sunday Times — revealed the shock figures.
Between January 2017 and November 2020, 43 officers’ families learned they were under threat from dissident republican groups.
Six officers and their families were forced to sell up and move house under the Scheme for the Purchase of Evacuated Dwellings (SPED), which was set up during the Troubles to help security force personnel under threat from terrorists, a PFNI spokesman confirmed to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday.
Nine officers were given emergency housing, while a further 15 had to install special security equipment in their homes, including bulletproof windows, reinforced doors, security gates and CCTV systems.
The SPED scheme is administered by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. For a house to be purchased, the PSNI must confirm that it is unsafe to continue living there because someone in the household had been threatened or intimidated, and is at risk of serious injury or death as a result.
Federation chairman Mark Lindsay said the situation was “intolerable and unacceptable”.
He told the magazine: “We are far from a society that is free from bullies, thugs and paramilitary killers who want to inflict great harm on our men and women.
“It is intolerable and wholly unacceptable. Our officers take risks to safeguard the weak and the vulnerable, and do their utmost to bring organised crime gangs, drug dealers and people traffickers to book.
“They deserve the unequivocal support of this community and not the qualified backing of some who play politics with policing.”
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Ulster Unionist Policing Board member Mike Nesbitt said: “If this was 43 members of the Met or the Greater Manchester Police having to move home or turn their homes into mini-fortresses because they were bring targeted by jihadis or neo-Nazis, then there would be a national outcry.”