Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: It's in all our interest to support the police

The attempt to kill police officers in Craigavon at the weekend was a particularly nasty terrorist incident. Dissident republicans pretended that they had set off a mortar in the area, and left a booby-trap device resembling a mortar which was designed to go off if moved
The attempt to kill police officers in Craigavon at the weekend was a particularly nasty terrorist incident. Dissident republicans pretended that they had set off a mortar in the area, and left a booby-trap device resembling a mortar which was designed to go off if moved

Editor's Viewpoint

The attempt to kill police officers in Craigavon at the weekend was a particularly nasty terrorist incident. Dissident republicans pretended that they had set off a mortar in the area, and left a booby-trap device resembling a mortar which was designed to go off if moved.

Left at a bus stop, it could have been picked up by a member of the public, never mind police responding to the initial alert, and once again demonstrates the terrorists' utter contempt for life as well as a wicked ingenuity.

It also underlines the new Chief Constable's warning that the dissident threat is severe and, no doubt, increases his resolve to pursue these republican micro-groups as well as other proscribed organisations.

Recognising the threat is simple, combating it much more difficult. Although the dissidents and their supporters are small in number, it is clear that they are determined to kill police officers where possible. Only a short time ago a brazen attempt to murder a senior officer was carried out in east Belfast. And journalist Lyra McKee was killed by a dissident gunman in Londonderry in April when he recklessly fired at police lines during a riot.

Chief Constable Simon Byrne believes community policing is the long-term solution to beating the terrorists, but he accepts there are problems with that approach at the moment, not least the fear factor among those with potential information on terrorism.

Taking legacy issues out of the hands of the PSNI and giving it to an independent body will increase community trust, as would the continued drive to achieve a force make-up representative of the community at large. Greater encouragement from church and civic leaders to Catholics to join the force is also needed.

However, he is right to argue that it is in the interest of the entire community that the PSNI is given as much support as possible as crime knows no barriers.

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No doubt Mr Byrne has cast envious eyes at England and Wales where new Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to recruit 20,000 new officers within three years. Force numbers have been falling and budgetary restrictions have hampered police work.

Here, of course, we don't have a functioning devolved government which could sign off on new funding for the PSNI, address recruitment problems or devise plans for policing the border in the aftermath of Brexit.

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