PSNI review “loyalist” and “republican” crime comments

PUP deputy leader Cllr John Kyle
PUP deputy leader Cllr John Kyle

The PSNI is considering issuing media guidance to officers after claims that they openly blame loyalists for crime but not republicans.

On Tuesday night in Londonderry youths threw petrol bombs and stones at police. The PSNI reported that they dealt with “minor disorder” while Chief Inspector Andy Lemon placed responsibility for the attacks on police with “youths”.

On Wednesday night in north Belfast, youths once again threw petrol bombs and stones at police. But this time a senior officer said on social media that “loyalist young people decided to have a riot”.

PUP deputy leader John Kyle responded that there is “a disparity” in the way the PSNI report incidents in different communities.

He added: “We have put this to senior officers in the PSNI. They agreed to look into the matter but the inconsistency persists.

“It is reinforcing the perception among loyalists that there are still double standards in the policing system.

“It is vital that all communities have confidence in the impartiality of the PSNI so this problem must be dealt with, and soon.”

Local Policing Chief Inspector Gavin Kirkpatrick responded: “PSNI are aware of the sensitivity around the perceived inequitable attribution of the terms ‘loyalist’ and ‘republican’ to statements on crime and anti-social behaviour.

“PSNI are considering providing appropriate guidance to officers on this issue to ensure consistency in approach.

“In this specific case, given the context within which this incident took place, officers’ experience and community consultation it is the belief of PSNI that loyalist youths were responsible for these incidents.”

He appealed to youths not to become involved in such incidents and for community leaders to exercise influence positively.