Editorial: Rammings of PSNI vehicles are a sign of confidence on the part of criminals amidst weak policing

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News Letter editorial on Tuesday April 23 2024:

​It has emerged that police cars are being rammed in Northern Ireland at a rate of around 43 per year.​

That shocking statistic is equivalent to almost one such incident a week.

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Scores of police officers were injured last year alone in these disgraceful attacks, which should be treated as a serious criminal offence such as causing grievous bodily harm.

There is a particular problem in south Armagh, where about a quarter of the rammings of PSNI vehicles have taken place.

It suggests that police struggle to retain control of the area, or that criminals feel emboldened.

Why might that be?

Well in the border region of south Armagh there is a long tradition of semi lawlessness and illegal activity, particularly smuggling, in that border region.

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There is also a deeply entrenched tradition of dislike of, even hatred towards, the British authorities, or anything that is perceived as such.

There could hardly be a less auspicious environment in which to place the timid PSNI, the leadership of which has hitherto pandered to Irish republican politicians.

Much of the current problem dates back to 2019, when the then chief constable posed with armed officers at Christmas in Crossmaglen. Instead of explaining that they are armed because of the criminal and terrorist threat, and that he was trying to boost their morale in the festive season, he was apologetic.

Then there was a police review which delighted republicans, and suggested a PSNI retreat from the area.

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Since then the police have shown weakness in other republican displays of might such as the Bobby Storey funeral.

This is what happens when the police send out such signals of retreat – signals that they should now reverse in a visible way.