We’ll do what’s right despite security threat, vows Baggott
Progressive, personal policing in Northern Ireland is being held back by the dissident terrorist threat, Chief Constable Matt Baggott has warned.
Speaking at a public meeting in the predominantly nationalist city of Newry last night, Mr Baggott said the PSNI “wants to do the right thing” and “let the politics work itself out”.
A massive security operation was launched in advance of Mr Baggott's appearance at the Policing Board meeting in the city, close to some of the border areas where dissident republican activity remains high.
Scores of officers guarded the city’s art centre, where the meeting was held, while uniformed patrols searched the Newry canal and kept watch over nearby car parks.
A small number of republicans gathered outside the meeting, not to protest about the PSNI, but |to protest against the conditions for republican prisoners in Maghaberry jail.
Mr Baggot told the meeting that despite the security threat he is determined to turn personal policing into a reality.
“The only thing holding us back are the issues of safety and security,” he said.
“I do not want any young person in this society spending 20 to 30 years in prison because they have the wrong message of what the PSNI stand for. There is a false reality of what the PSNI do and that is what is holding us back.
“We want to be personal, professional and protected. Policing in the community is right and we are going to turn from aspiration to reality. We are doing the things that matter in spite of the security threat.”
Mr Baggott asked the community to support his PSNI colleagues.
“Do everything you can to embrace my colleagues. They are human beings at the end of the day,” he said. “There is a minority that doesn’t see the impartiality and reality of the PSNI. The PSNI is essential to everyone’s future, I see great support for the PSNI, not for the small number of people who want to take us back.”
The Chief Constable also warned he is working to a very tight budget, which could become even more restrictive in the future.