A drive against paramilitary shootings which were more common in Derry and Strabane in the past year than anywhere else has been rebooted by the Department of Justice.
Statistics show that in the 12 months to June 2019, 10 of the 17 people (59%) injured in paramilitary-style shootings in the North were shot in Derry and Strabane.
And shooting people, it would appear, is the prepared method of attack for paramilitaries in Derry and Strabane, which accounted for just four of the 64 people injured in paramilitary-style beatings over the same time period.
This week the Department relaunched its ‘Ending the Harm’ campaign aimed at highlighting the devastating impact of ‘paramilitary style attacks’.
It believes the radio, TV, social media and outdoor campaign - first launched in October 2018 - has helped shift some of the dangerously ambivalent attitudes to shootings reported in previous surveys.
Anthony Harbinson, from the Tackling Paramilitarism, Criminality and Organised Crime Programme Board, said: “Before we launched this campaign, research showed that 35% of people living in those areas most impacted by paramilitary activity thought so-called ‘paramilitary style attacks’ were justified in certain circumstances.
“The purpose of this campaign has been to highlight the devastating toll these attacks have and help people understand that the criminals who carry out these attacks don’t care about people, or justice, or solving social problems in communities,” he said.
“They don’t offer protection and they are only interested in exerting control and exploiting people for their own gain, using violence as a means to do so.
“Recent research carried out to assess the impact of the campaign, and get a snapshot of current attitudes towards so-called ‘paramilitary style attacks’ in those areas, now shows that 19% of people believe they are justified; that’s a 46 per cent decrease, which is encouraging.”
A still from one of the ‘Ending the Harm’ anti-paramilitary adverts.