PSNI raids branded Creggan ‘punishment’

The scene at Creggan Heights on Friday afternoon as PSNI officers raided a house and arrested the occupant. A number of petrol bombs were thrown at the scene. 0506JM03
The scene at Creggan Heights on Friday afternoon as PSNI officers raided a house and arrested the occupant. A number of petrol bombs were thrown at the scene. 0506JM03
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Sinn Féin has challenged the PSNI to “explain its strategy” over raids in Creggan at the weekend.

Police said they carried out several “planned” search operations in the estate on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Sinn Féin Councillor, Deputy Mayor of Derry and member of the local Police Community Safety Partnership, Kevin Campbel, voiced the concerns of residents about the “manner and scale” of a number of PSNI raids carried out in the area.

He said residents believed the raids, which police said were the result of investigations into serious crime and dissident republican terrorism, were nothing more than “community punishment”. The councillor added that the actions threatened to destroy any good work to build community support for policing in the area.

“The PSNI has a responsibility to the people of Creggan to explain the strategy behind its actions in Creggan over the weekend. Raids that are perceived by the public as a form of community punishment do nothing to build community support for policing - in fact they threaten all of the efforts by public representatives to build that support.”

He said the raids raised disturbing questions about the quality of PSNI “so-called intelligence led investigations”. “How stringently was the information on which the PSNI justified these search operations tested before individuals and families were subjected to the trauma and disruption that accompanied these police actions. Many people in the Creggan community felt that what occurred in their community over the weekend was nothing more than a publicity stunt which has done nothing to convince the people of the PSNI’s commitment to policing with the authority of the people.”

Colr Campbell labelled police explanations for the searches “patronising”.

He added: “Bad policing operations anywhere do nothing to instil confidence but when they are carried out in republican communities they take on particularly negative connotations.

“Patronising statements from the PSNI press office about being unable to comment on particular operational matters or referring complaints to the Ombudsman’s Office are not sufficient.

“We need to see the evidence that it’s not just the public who have to buy into the new policing that we have worked so hard to create, but also the PSNI. We didn’t see too much evidence of new policing in Creggan over the weekend,” he added.