Belfast Telegraph

Police stop 1,000 cars in Christmas clampdown on dissident republican terrorists around Belfast

By Ricky Thompson

Motorists heading into Belfast's city centre should expect disruption this festive season as police vow to clamp down on 'sinister' dissidents.

Motorists heading into Belfast's city centre should expect disruption this festive season as police vow to clamp down on 'sinister' dissidents.

Last week the PSNI launched a significant policing operation to combat the ongoing terrorist threat and have already stopped 1000 vehicles moving in and out of Belfast.

The police are working with various organisations throughout the Christmas period to avoid a repeat of past violence and disruption during the busiest time of year for retailers.

Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw, District Commander of Belfast City Policing District, said focusing on the dissident threat is high on the agenda: "As of this moment we've stopped something in the order of 1000 vehicles coming in and out of the city centre.

"We want to do this in a balanced way so that people feel safe but as well as that we want to  ensure that people with a more sinister intent don't get to bring something into the city centre."

Mr Grimshaw added: "During the festive period there is a large increase in the numbers of people frequenting the city, whether to shop, to visit attractions or to enjoy the many bars and restaurants. Our policing operation is tailored to these demands.

"We are working in partnership with retailers and businesses to provide training on issues such as fraud, shoplifting and security issues. There will be a high visibility presence of officers in and around the city centre to reassure the public and to assist businesses. We will also have officers in plain clothes on the streets to deter crime."

Belfast's night scene is an important part of the city's life and Mr Grimshaw had this advice for those who take part: "We want people to enjoy their night out, but to do so safely. 

This means that you need to know your limits when drinking and if you are planning on drinking, quite simply - don't drive.  Book a taxi in advance, agree a nominated driver or arrange a lift.  Officers will be conducting drink-driving operations to help keep our roads safe.

The PSNI is working closely with Belfast's Chamber of Trade, Belfast city Management and Pubs of Ulster to ensure they create a safe environment for shoppers.

Colin Neill, chief executive of Pubs of Ulster said: "Disruption always has the potential to have a negative impact but venues are booking out and deposits are being paid, so people are keen to come into Belfast.

"There's a positive atmosphere in the city and the extra measures taken by the police and other bodies will keep people very safe.

"Belfast is still one of the safest cities in the world. Let's just have a really good Christmas."

Paul McMahon, President, Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce added: "As the capital city, Belfast has a huge variety of retail outlets that are unique to Northern Ireland and which therefore appeal to people from across Northern Ireland, and indeed the Republic of Ireland, and further afield.

"This influx of visitors is something which retailers and businesses rely on and we want to ensure that their experience of the city is as positive as it can be.  Therefore it is extremely important that we work together in order to create a safe and friendly environment for all our visitors."

The PSNI have also recently launched a facility which provides businesses with the opportunity to report cybercrime online.

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