Derry/Strabane survey into policing prompted by Creggan concerns

Derry and Strabane Health and Community Committee have passed a motion that council should consider proactively commissioning an independent district wide survey to establish the impact of policing within all our communities.

Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 4:47 pm
District-wide survey of policing to be carried out.

The proposal was brought by Independent Councillor Sean Carr following a presentation of a report to the committee by Daniel Holder, Deputy Director and Eliza Browning, New Decade Human Rights Project Co-ordinator from the Committee on the Administration of Justice.

Councillor Carr spoke about ‘the lack of faith the public have’ in the police and the ‘lack of accountability mechanisms’.

He said: “This proposal comes from the community which has been affected. People tell me of their concerns about the TSG going into their areas with no accountability.

“People can say all they want, that there are mechanisms in place to over see this and investigate it, the PCSP, the Policing Board, Ombudsman. See the people in Creggan who were affected six months ago - how many of those organisations have been in Creggan to talk to the people that's been affected?

“The reason I’ve asked for a survey is because it will give these people a voice because the last six months they have had no voice. These people feel let down by all these organisations. Give them a voice in this survey and maybe we can move things forward.”

The Committee on the Administration of Justice, an independent non-governmental human rights organisation able to look at relevant human rights standards, brought a report following a council motion which was passed on March 25, 2021 that requested the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Committee on the Administration of Justice to 'conduct an immediate investigation into recent complaints of inappropriate policing tactics' in Creggan.

Alliance Councillor Rachael Ferguson made an amendment to the original proposal to remove a line which described security based policing as being ‘currently devoid of any scrutiny or accountability mechanisms.’

SDLP Councillor Brian Tierney spoke of the work his party and others carried out on the PCSP and Policing Board holding the police to account, adding that he was ‘sceptical’ and had ‘some concerns’.

Adding an amendment that council should ‘consider’ commissioning the survey, he said; “Who conducts the survey? How is the survey conducted? How much is it going to cost? What communities are we going to be surveying?”

Aontú Councillor Emmet Doyle said he felt it was ‘time for this council to escalate its actions’ on these issues.

“If your party is in a position on the Policing Board to do something about it and nothing has happened then it’s not working. If you are going to have meetings with the District Commander about the Creggan and it’s still happening then they aren’t listening.

“There are a whole lot of accountability mechanisms but they don’t work. This council has to go from talking about this to acting on it. We can’t keep asking the same question, it’s time for action.”

The substantive motion carried with votes 7 for and 4 against.