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Hostility towards PSNI growing in Londonderry: report

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Crowds gather during disturbances on Fahan Street in Derry last month

Crowds gather during disturbances on Fahan Street in Derry last month

PA

Crowds gather during disturbances on Fahan Street in Derry last month

Relationships between the community and police in parts of Londonderry are said to have "deteriorated considerably" in recent years, a report has said.

A lack of confidence in policing and the criminal justice system has translated into historically low levels of reporting and a discernible increase in hostile attitudes towards the PSNI in areas like the Brandywell and Creggan, according to a report involving Stormont's Executive Office.

However, the numbers committed to political violence have diminished, with several groups engaged in dialogue, the Building Capacity in Communities in Transition review showed.

It added: "However, the problem of criminal elements operating on the fringes of paramilitary republican groups remains.

"Relationships between the community and PSNI are said to have deteriorated considerably in recent years."

Common criticisms related to the "sporadic" nature of police involvement in communities, the turnover and withdrawal of knowledgeable and experienced police teams, and the perception that they do not appear to act on or respond to information provided by the community.

Resource constraints and security concerns also appear to be a factor in explaining changes to neighbourhood policing in recent years, the report added.

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"It is clear that the detention of senior republican figures coupled with the use and alleged abuse of stop-and-search powers are huge, burning issues in Derry, generating sympathy for traditional republican views and hostility towards the police."

There were six consecutive nights of disorder in the city last month. The trouble, which centred on the nationalist Bogside, saw around six shots fired at officers close to the city's walls. On the sixth night, two improvised explosive devices were thrown at police. A total of 74 petrol bombs were also thrown that night.

SDLP leader and Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood said: "It has been 20 years since our society said yes to peace, yet paramilitaries still lean heavily on the backs of communities.

"Likewise, the statistics which indicate the high suicide and employment deprivation rates in the area illustrate just how many people have been left behind.

"In order to ensure this trend is readily reversed, it will require substantial buy-in from all sections of our society and not least, cross-party political buy-in."

Mr Eastwood said the only way to ensure the delivery of solutions is "through political delivery".

"We must step up to the mark to ensure we see our most deprived communities break free from the chains of the past," he added.

"A number of steps must be taken: the breaking of the political impasse, no longer turning social justice issues into party-political ones, and a willingness to navigate through the deadlock to restore a government that delivers for all."


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