SENIOR police officers have been accused of “biased political policing” by the Coleraine Branch of the DUP.
In a statement the party claim police tactics are conducive to provoking a reaction from protestors and initiating trouble.
After several complaints concerning the excessive police presence and provocative conduct and intimidating tactics during recent white-line protests, the branch decided to send observers to a white-line protest in Coleraine on Friday, March 1.
The DUP statement claimed: “What was witnessed was nothing more than legal provocation, intimidation, harassment and possibly several infringements of people’s basic human rights.
“What began as a quiet peaceful white-line protest in good humour quickly turned sour.
Members of the DUP witnessed friendly banter amongst the protestors on the white line and passing motorists. Drivers where stopping to speak to protestors they knew and sounding their horns in approval on the way past.”
The DUP also hit out at police officers videoing the protest.
“The PSNI will claim they have the right to video in case of public disorder but what disorder has there been during the protests in Coleraine?
“There have been eight protest rallies held in Coleraine. All of them peaceful. All held without damage to property or disruption to people going about their business. The only likelihood of a breach of the peace being initiated came from those charged with upholding the rule of law and order. Therefore, the tactic of provocative policing has to be questioned.
“Of course, the policeman and woman on the street are only obeying orders. They are not the ones initiating this tactic. It comes from the highest level within the PSNI.”
In reply to the claims a police spokesperson said: “The PSNI police all parades and protests appropriately and proportionately.
“Everyone has the right to peacefully protest and police will endeavour to facilitate that right where possible providing protestors remain within the law.
“Anyone with a complaint about police actions or behaviour should contact the office of the Police Ombudsman for NI”.