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SDLP seeking to justify repressive policing

19 August, 2004

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Human Rights Caitriona Ruane has accused the SDLP policing spokesperson Alex Attwood of 'once again defending repressive policing measures'. Ms Ruane's comments come after Mr Attwood defended the PSNI and the British Army after it emerged that almost 15,000 people were stopped and searched by these organisations in the past 12 months.

Ms Ruane said:

" Coming from the position he does it is maybe not surprising that Mr Attwood has never experienced the brutal excesses of stop and search measures as employed by the PSNI and British Army.

" He attempts to defend the PSNI, as has become common practice, against allegations of over use of repressive stop and search powers by pointing out that the majority of these are listed as being undertaken by the British Army. What Mr Attwood fails to point out is that a member of the PSNI is normally present when the British Army are conducting stop and search operations. These sorts of joint PSNI/British Army stop and search operations are particularly common for nationalists living in border areas.

" It is clear that the PSNI are attempting to hide behind the fact that they still heavily involved in this repressive practice by using the cover of the British Army for their activities. We have seen this practice before when a statistical decline in the use of plastic bullets by the PSNI was matched by a sharp rise in the use of plastic bullets by the British Army.

" Nationalists who have been the victims of this sort of repressive approach to policing for decades will be dismayed but not surprised by Alex Attwood's attempts to absolve the PSNI from any responsibility for these shocking statistics." ENDS

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