Cops taken to task over holiday mayhem

By Francesca Ryan

An emergency meeting of the West Belfast District Policing and Community Safety Partnerships (DPCSP) tackled community concerns about the policing of our streets over the Christmas holiday period.

Harry Connolly, Vice Chair West Belfast DPCSP and Policing Committee, explained why they had called for a sit-down with senior management of the PSNI.

“The West Belfast DPCSP is the lead body in dealing with community safety and policing issues,” he said. “Following the apparent absence of any meaningful policing plan and the orgy of violence witnessed over the Christmas holiday period, we thought it absolutely critical to convene this emergency meeting to provide the senior management of the PSNI with a community narrative of the impact of crime and, as important in this instance, the absence of a professional, robust and community-centred response from the police.”

Sinn Féin Councillors Matt Garrett and Stevie Corr also attended the meeting.

“We made it very clear to the PSNI that our community will not accept a second class service and that the policing plan over the holidays was inept and not fit for purpose,” said Councillor Garrett.  “We pressed the PSNI hard on these issues and made it clear in no uncertain terms that what passed of as policing over the holiday period was simply unacceptable. Actions to address some of the issues were agreed.”

Councillor Corr, whose Ballymurphy constituency was targeted by criminals over the festive period, said faith in policing at present is very low.

“The violence and crime spree that took place across the West of the city was deplorable, as was the PSNI response,” he said.  “The Christmas period clearly displayed just how far the PSNI still have to travel in terms of becoming a community-centred police service.

“Community confidence in the PSNI is at its lowest and they must take urgent steps to address this.”

Another meeting has been scheduled for the end of January.

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