Cost of arrests in paramilitary probe questioned

Sinn Fein Colr. Sean McGlinchey.
Sinn Fein Colr. Sean McGlinchey.

A Sinn Fein councillor arrested and later released unconditionally by police investigating paramilitary activity in the Dungiven area says he has been told the cost of his arrest, and that of six others arrested as part of the PSNI probe amounted to approximately £2,000 per person.

Councillor Tony McCaul was arrested on November 27, 2014 at his Foreglen home, while Sinn Fein Colr. Sean McGlinchey was arrested the following Tuesday on December 2, also as police conducted searches on his Dungiven home.

Sinn Fein Councillor Tony McCaul.

Sinn Fein Councillor Tony McCaul.

In total, seven men were questioned by detectives and six of them were released unconditionally, including Colrs. McCaul and McGlinchey. One of the men was released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

Colr. McCaul said at a meeting of Limavady Policing and Community Safety Partnership on Monday, after asking for costs relating to the operation, he was told by police the cost of each arrest was approximately £2,000.

Colr. McCaul branded the cost “a waste of money”, and said he would be questioning the figure as he believes the true cost will be substantially more.

Colr. McGlinchey said while police are entitled to make arrests and conduct subsequent investigations, he claimed his arrest was “a waste of money” because he had offered himself up for interview but that opportunity was not taken.

Colr. McGlinchey and Colr. McCaul have met with the Police Ombudsman to state their concerns about their arrests.

At the time of the arrests, Detective Chief Inspector Una Jennings, from Serious Crime Branch, said: “We are investigating various forms of paramilitary activity in the Dungiven area, predominantly over the last four years. These include shooting incidents and threats.”

Det. Chief Insp. Jennings said the investigation was “conducted to the highest professional standards and is subject to all the checks and balances provided by accountability arrangements and the criminal justice system. Police have a duty, to victims and to the community, to follow all lines of enquiry without fear or favour.

“If anyone has a complaint to make about the actions of police they should contact the Office of the Police Ombudsman.”