Belfast Telegraph

Police transferred out of Londonderry due to threats

Dissident republican activity in Londonderry is
Dissident republican activity in Londonderry is "particularly potent" and has led some police officers to relocate to other areas out of fear for their safety, according to a study
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

Dissident republican activity in Londonderry is "particularly potent" and has led some police officers to relocate to other areas out of fear for their safety, according to a study.

A report from David Seymour, the independent reviewer of justice and security in Northern Ireland, also revealed that the number of stop and searches carried out by the PSNI in the Derry and Strabane council area was higher than the number in Belfast, despite the district having just half the population.

Among the police operations probed was the response to a dissident republican Easter parade in Creggan last year, during which a number of house searches were carried out and arrests made.

It was during a similar operation and in ensuing riots at Easter this year that the New IRA shot dead journalist Lyra McKee, which happened outside the period covered by the report.

Mr Seymour said: "The intelligence picture is worrying and, inevitably, not fully understood by residents in the area.

"Dissident republican activity in the Derry/Strabane area is particularly potent.

"In terms of population, Derry/Strabane is well under half the size of Belfast, but there are as many dissident republicans in Derry/Strabane who pose a threat as there are in Belfast.

"Personal threats against officers who have exercised stop and search powers have, in some cases, caused them to be transferred to other districts."

PSNI superintendent Alan Hutton said the dangers would not prevent the force from delivering community policing.

He added: "We are delivering community policing despite the activities of violent dissident republicans and this is evident in how we serve the public every day.

"While this report refers to a period of time in 2018, we have seen very recently, with the murder of Lyra McKee, just how potent (of a) threat violent dissident republicans pose.

"While we are ever mindful of the threat that exists, we are committed to working with the community to provide a policing service that delivers on preventing crime and reducing harm."

The report showed that most stop and searches were carried out in Derry and Strabane area (1,450), followed by Belfast city (1,069).

It was noted that these figures were significantly lower than the previous 12 months and that overall across the whole of Northern Ireland the figure had dropped by 17%.

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