Chief Constable responds to public over Creggan policing

PSNI chief constable George Hamilton.
PSNI chief constable George Hamilton.

The PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, speaking following last night’s Policing Board meeting in the city, has said that he has listened to the concerns of people in Creggan about the PSNI response to an attack on two officers in the area on Sunday night.

Police were criticised because of the length of time it took to secure the scene.

However the Chief Constable said the safety of the public was paramount in all policing operations, and he condemned those who were responsible for continued attacks on the PSNI.

George Hamilton said: “In recent weeks there have been a number of attempts to murder police officers. On Sunday night there was the attack on four of officers in Creggan Heights and in the previous weeks there have been two attempts to kill police officers by making false reports to police with the intent of bringing officers into an area where a bomb would then be detonated. I heard first hand from the community last night that there were real concerns about the amount of time taken to set up cordons and to complete the scene examination. I am listening to those concerns and the District Commander has commissioned a review of the police response including the engagement with the community.”

The PSNI Chief Constable said that the lives of members of the public were being put at risk by those carrying out attacks on the PSNI.

“The reality is that in all of these examples, it is not just police officers lives that were in danger, the lives of the local community have also been put at very real risk. On Sunday night, two members of the public who were travelling behind the police vehicle were left badly shaken by the damage the attack caused to their car. In the other two attempts to kill police, the bombs were planted close to homes and community facilities in Strabane and Derry.

“In public statements, the people responsible for these acts have said it would be the PSNI’s fault if a community member is killed or injured. They suggested that police would prefer to have a member of the community killed instead of a police officer, and they went on to threaten to kill members of the community who would work in partnership with policing. I have nothing to say to those who wrote the statement – it is not worth responding to the perverted logic that they use to justify their actions. But I do want to say something to the people living in the communities affected and, indeed to the wider public.

Protecting members of the community is always the PSNI’s first priority. We know police officers are the main target of the people who think violence is an answer. This means that, on some occasions, to protect the community as well as the police officers who serve it, our judgement must be to take a slower approach to suspicious calls and activity.”