SF Hit Out At Level of North's 'Stop And Search' Incidents

The North's top cop has defended his force's conduct after a Sinn Féin member of the NI Policing Board slammed what she describes as a "massive increase" in police 'stop and search' incidents

Speaking at a public meeting of the NI Policing Board in Derry, Sir Hugh Orde said the policy aimed to disrupt dissident republican activity

While he agreed that the number of 'stops' had leapt by more than 200% over a three-month period last year, the Chief Constable said the rise was "a direct result of those small groups of dissident republicans trying to kill people".

He said it was being used more in areas where dissidents are active.

His comments follow an attack by republican politician Martina Anderson who said that the massive increase in the use of stop and search anti-terrorism powers by the PSNI was unacceptable.

"The revelation that the use of Section 44 stop and search powers has increased by 245% in the final 3 months of 2008 compared to the same period a year earlier is shocking and unacceptable.

"The excessive use of Section 44 powers in England have already drawn significant criticism from politicians and community leaders there including Lord Carlise in his report on the implementation of these and other special powers.

"We need to ensure that the same misuse of these powers does not take a foothold within the PSNI.

"I do not accept the explanations given today by the PSNI for the massive increase in the use of these powers here," she said, insisting that the unnecessary use of stop and search powers directly impacts on the ability of the PSNI to "demonstrate to the community that they can police in an effective and accountable fashion".

Sir Hugh Orde defended the use of stop and search by his officers even though the police used special powers 2,488 times in the last quarter of 2008, a rise of 245% on the same period in 2007.

Meanwhile, as he addressed the Derry meeting, republican protesters gathered outside the Millennium Forum venue, opposing the meeting organised by the Northern Ireland Policing Board to engage with the local community.

They said that other republicans should not be giving credence to the PSNI.


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