Suffolk residents plan to report PSNI response to Police Ombudsman

DUP councillors Brian Kingston and Ruth Patterson speak to the media following a meeting with police over attacks on Suffolk
DUP councillors Brian Kingston and Ruth Patterson speak to the media following a meeting with police over attacks on Suffolk

Residents of an under-fire Protestant enclave in west Belfast are planning to report the response of the PSNI to the Police Ombudsman.

A delegation of DUP councillors accompanied residents of an under-fire Protestant enclave in west Belfast to a meeting with police.

A mob of up to 50 people attacked homes and cars in the Suffolk area late on Friday night,

Residents say it is the latest in a series of attacks on the tiny Protestant enclave in west Belfast.

In a statement, the Suffolk Residents Association said the area has been subjected to repeated attacked which it said have escalated over recent months. The group says it plans to report the PSNI response to the Police Ombudsman.

“After careful consideration and observation the community is in agreement that the P.S.N.I appears to be operating a minimal intervention policy regarding the Suffolk area,” the group said.

“Consequently the community will be reporting this matter and in particular the events of Friday night to the Police Ombudsman.”

DUP councillors Brian Kingston and Ruth Patterson accompanied Suffolk residents to meet West Belfast PSNI Area Commander Mike White at Woodbourne PSNI Station this morning.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Kingston said the purpose had been to “convey the lack of confidence which Suffolk residents have in the protection being provided to them by the PSNI in the light of this and previous sectarian attacks against their area”.

“When the attack occurred on Friday night there were already six police vehicles in the nearby Brooke Drive area, yet residents say it took them 40 minutes to arrive in Suffolk,” he said.

“The PSNI claimed the response time was closer to 25 – 30 minutes as resources were stretched.

“The PSNI Area Commander said that since Friday night he has increased patrolling with three landrovers dedicated to the Blacks Road area.

“Residents confirmed that they have noticed this increased presence. He further stated that four police officers have been dedicated to the investigation of the attacks.”

Mr Kingston welcomed a new interface camera that is being installed at Woodbourne PSNI Station which will monitor the area around the top of Blacks Road.

Ms Patterson said while the residents welcomed some progress, they remain of the view that the PSNI is not providing them with adequate protection.

She said residents plan to report the matter to the Police Ombudsman.

“Included will be the issue of comments made by a PSNI officer who suggested to residents on Friday night that they should consider moving out of the area if attacks like this continue,” she said.

“It is totally inappropriate for a police officer to make such a comment particularly at a time when the community is reeling from a severe and sustained sectarian attack.

“We also asked for a formal update on the PSNI investigation into other recent sectarian attacks on the area, including the petrol bomb attack in June against a house in Kells Avenue which contained a mother and two young children, which mercifully resulted in no injuries.”