Security alert at Policing Board event

Professor Deirdre Heenan Provost of the Magee Campus at the University of Ulster pictured with PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott and Assistant Chief Constable, Judith Gillespie at the Policing Board meeting which was held at the university on friday. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 3.2.12

Professor Deirdre Heenan Provost of the Magee Campus at the University of Ulster pictured with PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott and Assistant Chief Constable, Judith Gillespie at the Policing Board meeting which was held at the university on friday. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 3.2.12

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A meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board continued at Magee College during a security alert at the complex on Friday.

A comprehensive yet low key police security operation took place at the University of Ulster site as the NIPB launched its 7th Human Rights Annual Report.

It’s understood that a coded warning was received by a local media outlet shortly after the beginning of the public meeting, which was attended by a few hundred people and PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott. However, the meeting was not disrupted as a result.

PSNI Superintendent Chris Yates said following the meeting: “Considerable planning goes into these events and as such we anticipated the possibility of a security alert. Following significant planning, a comprehensive security operation is in place. As always our aim is to maintain public safety and prevent disruption to the event.”

The ‘let’s talk’ styled event gave members of the public and community, statutory and voluntary groups from the city an opportunity to question policing board members, the board’s human rights advisor and the chief constable.

Policing board Chair Brian Rea said the meeting was an opportunity to “encourage debate on policing and human rights issues”.

SDLP MLA Conall McDevitt, Chair of the Human Rights and Professional Standards Committee, highlighted some of the findings of the report. He said that among the “key” concerns for the committee were the low clearance rate (4%) of paramilitary-style assaults, the use of stop, search and question powers against a high number of people aged under 25, the underreporting of hate crimes and the retention of DNA materials and fingerprints. He said the “issues raised” by those attending the meeting would be brought back to the committee for further discussion.

Welcoming the publication of the report, Chief Constable Matt Baggott, said it was “another endorsement of the world leading approach the PSNI has to human rights-based policing.