PSNI accused of ‘harassment’

The Public meeting at the Cornbeef tin where stop and search powers by the PSNI where discussed by the local community. (1904SL24)
The Public meeting at the Cornbeef tin where stop and search powers by the PSNI where discussed by the local community. (1904SL24)

Creggan residents who allege they are victims of “campaign of harassment” by the PSNI have been urged to log every incident with the police Ombudsman.

Human rights activists and Derry solicitor Paddy McGurk addressed members of the public who allege they have been victims of police harassment through use of controversial stop and search powers under sections 21 and 24 of the Justice and Security Act 2007 at a special meeting organised by Creggan Women’s Group on Wednesday night.

The meeting heard of several serious allegations of the misuse of stop and search powers against people with dissident republican views, their children and wider family circles.

It was chaired by veteran republican and former Sinn Fein councillor Hugh Brady who stated: “Our children, wives or parents can’t be held to account for our actions or other people’s actions.” He said that official figures had revealed that in a single quarter 2,400 people were stopped and searched by police in Derry and nothing was recovered while in he same period the powers were used just once in Larne and led to a drugs arrest.

Local mother Kelly Ramsey said the stop and search incidents were “getting out of hand”, alleging several instances of police harassment towards her family. She alleged that she was “nearly rammed off the road” by a PSNI Tactical Support Group while eight months pregnant, that an officer threatened to urinate on her floor during a house search and that officers also spat on her floor. She added that her 15 year-old son was stopped by police “simply because of who his father is”.

Her husband Stephen Ramsey told the meeting that he was stopped seven times in just four days and asked to identify himself by the same officers.

Dan Holder, Deputy Director, Committee for Administration of Justice, said that anyone who believed they were stopped unlawfully should complain to the Police Ombudsman.

Kitty McDaid, of Creggan Women’s group, said: “We are making people aware of what is happening to these good communities, to good people.”

In a joint statement SDLP Councillors Jim Clifford and Anne Donnelly, the only political representatives to attend, said: “The stopping of alleged paramilitaries by the police is one thing but the harassment of people going about their daily business, and women and children in Derry is not acceptable.”