Prosecuting Derry gun gangs is challenging say PSNI

PSNI Chief Inspector, Alan Hutton.
PSNI Chief Inspector, Alan Hutton.

A senior police officer in Derry has admitted the PSNI face "a number of challenges" when trying to prosecute those responsible for paramilitary style shootings in the city.

Chief Inspector Alan Hutton made the comments after local Sinn Fein councillor, Sandra Duffy, lambasted the PSNI after a man was shot in Shantallow on Sunday evening.

READ MORE: PSNI lambasted after man shot in Shantallow
Chief Inspector Hutton described the shooting as "brutal" and listed the obstacles faced by the PSNI when attempting to prosecute those who carry out such attacks.

"There are often a number of challenges for a variety of reasons in these types of investigations – often injured parties are unable or unwilling to provide information that would help to identity offenders and witnesses are often unwilling to cooperate, possibly due to fear of reprisal," said Chief Inspector Hutton.

“The PSNI is the only legitimate policing service in Northern Ireland, holding Human Rights, at the heart of our actions for all our citizens. However, to bring those responsible for such crimes before the courts, we need evidence and support to enable us to conduct the most thorough investigation possible," he added.

The 44 year-old man injured in Sunday evening's shooting was taken to hospital for treatment. The man's injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

“The Police Service of Northern Ireland condemns paramilitary style attacks in the strongest possible terms and I would agree with local councillors that they need to stop," Chief Inspector Hutton.

READ MORE: Man forced into tunnel and shot in paramilitary-style attack
“This type of criminal activity is abhorrent and serves no purpose; it brings nothing but fear and misery to the community and police are determined to bring those responsible to justice.

“These types of attacks are not a form of justice and those involved do not represent the interests of any community nor contribute anything to it. They are small groups of individuals who continue to try and terrorise people and commit criminal acts, and they must be isolated from communities. They achieve nothing but to continue a cycle of violence.

He continued: “The PSNI is the only legitimate policing service in Northern Ireland, holding Human Rights, at the heart of our actions for all our citizens.

"However, to bring those responsible for such crimes before the courts, we need evidence and support to enable us to conduct the most thorough investigation possible."

Chief Inspector Hutton claimed one of the reasons why members of the public were so reluctant to come forward with information is because they are afraid they could be targeted next.

“The impact of this kind of attack on individuals, families and communities can be severe and yet many turn a blind eye to what is happening on their streets, either through fear or indifference.

"It is incredulous to think that there are those in society who see these brutal attacks as in any way justifiable or acceptable.

"Policing has a clear part to play in reducing the number of these attacks and bringing perpetrators before the courts but without evidence, success in detection is extremely limited.

"We need help from the community to bring successful detections to these cases and would ask that every right minded member of society works with us, to give us the information we need to put these people out of business and make Northern Ireland a safer place.

“Police will pursue all lines of enquiry to ensure these attacks are fully investigated and where appropriate, placed before the Public Prosecution Service. PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch also provides specialist investigative support to paramilitary attack investigations ensuring they are carried out to the highest possible standards."

Anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone with any information that can assist with the investigation are being urged to contact detectives at Strand Road on 101, quoting reference 1298 of 12/11/17.

Alternatively, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.