Figures show scale of PSNI oppression

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Close to double the number of Catholics as Protestants were arrested and charged by the police over a five-year period in the Six Counties, according to new statistics.

From the start of 2016 until the end of 2020, more than 57,000 Catholics were recorded as being arrested by the PSNI, with almost 27,000 charged. By contrast, nearly 31,000 Protestants were recorded as being arrested with under 15,000 charged.

The figures were published in The Detail website.

“This lays bare the very clear bias against one community from a police force that is overwhelmingly Protestant and Unionist,” said Lasair Dhearg’s Pól Torbóid.

The PSNI’s Acting Assistant Chief Constable Sam Donaldson said in response that they are ‘tasked with following the evidence without fear or favour, and in accordance with the law’.

Mr Torbóid described the comments as “victim-blaming”.

He denounced the “deliberate targeting” of the Catholic, Nationalist and Republican community with “degrading” stop and search legislation which has been used by the PSNI at least 374,000 times in the past ten years.

“This astronomical figure is equivalent to one fifth of the population of the Six Counties being stopped without consent and then forcibly searched,” he said.

“What is extremely worrying about this is that it is clearly being utilised against one community but the PSNI are refusing to record the community background of those searched because it would clearly display the rampant discrimination by the force against the Republican, Nationalist and Catholic community.”

Daniel Holder, deputy director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), a human rights organisation, said the figures show a stark disparity on the basis of community background “which cries out for explanation”.

Mr Holder also said CAJ has been concerned for some time that the PSNI is not monitoring the community background of individuals subjected to police powers, such as stop and search, and other measures.

“What was surprising is that no explanation or analysis was provided as to the reasons why this might be the case in the PSNI document, which also bizarrely stated there was not a differential when there clearly was.”

In the latest case of PSNI oppression, an early morning home invasion this week saw the wife of a republican detained under draconian legislation and hauled off to a PSNI interrogation unit in Belfast, before being released unconditionally. Another two republicans in Derry also had their family homes targeted by armed police in pre-Christmas raids.

Mr Torbóid noted, “Two decades of the PSNI and nothing has changed; nor will it ever, regardless of the religious make-up of its heavily armed ranks.”

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