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New Proposals - A Charter For Political Policing

22 June, 2006


Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly, spokesperson on Policing and Justice, has said that proposals on new police powers which the NIO has been consulting until recently constitute a "charter for political policing". He was speaking as Sinn Fein responded to the second of two consultation which the NIO has closed in the last seven days.

Mr Kelly said :

"The powers to which these proposals relate are the very same powers which have been so abused by policing establishment in the six counties. These proposals include draft legislation to extend powers used by the PSNI and others to search people and property, arrest individuals, and detain a person for up to 28 days without charge.

"Most people, including most nationalists, know that the problem with policing is not the absence of policing powers. The PSNI has plenty of power at this time. The problem is the PSNI's motivation and application of these powers and the fact that the Policing Board has consistently failed to hold them fully to account.

"The NIO proposals brought forward would actually diminish accountability over significant aspects of policing. Of grave concern is the draft Code for the treatment of people detained for up to 28 days under new powers introduced by the British govt, with the support of the SDLP. The proposals will have people arrested and detained in prison for the prescribed period on the lowest possible evidential threshold, without even being charged. This represents a return to the detention orders of the old Special Powers Act, which the Civil Rights movement fought to end. It is internment by any other name and the SDLP is named in Westminster as one of its co-sponsors."

Mr Kelly added "The proposals which the NIO is attempting to introduce are unacceptable to Sinn Fein and we have already asked for a meeting with the British government on this matter. Sinn Fein has been consistent in highlighting the fact that the current policing arrangements are not democratically accountable. The proposals unveiled by the NIO underscore the need for power over policing and justice to be wrested away from British securocrats, as quickly as possible." ENDS

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