DUP hold police meeting over Heights concerns

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THE DUP have held a further meeting with senior police regarding the ongoing problems in the Heights area of Coleraine.

The meeting had been arranged some weeks ago and occurred on the day after the shooting at an unoccupied flat in the area.

A spokesperson for the party said: “The DUP, including local Councillors McClure, Duddy, Bradley, MLA Adrian McQuillan and MP Gregory Campbell, met with Chief Superintendent Noble after the attack, where they were informed by the Chief Superintendent that the police were keeping an open mind on the motives for the attack, and those responsible.

“Despite what was reported in another newspaper, the Police did not state that they thought the attack was from loyalist sources.

“The meeting with the Chief Superintendent was requested in relation to the on-going anti-social behaviour, drug abuse, criminality and drunkenness in the Heights/Killowen area.”

Although specifics of the meeting were not disclosed, the DUP say they were given assurances that criminality and drug dealing/abuse would be targeted and that adequate resources were in place to deal with criminal gangs operating in the area.

“However, broadly speaking, the meeting was not deemed a success by those present,” said a DUP spokesman.

“The Chief Superintendent, although well briefed prior to the meeting, was told by the DUP delegation he and his senior officers need to take whatever time necessary to find out what was going on in the area in order to deal with the year round problems which exist there.

“The outcome was that assurances were given regarding the Police’s determination to see matters resolved and the delegation repeated that they would judge the assurances against the results with people appearing before the courts for breaking the law,” concluded the DUP spokesperson.

In a statment, the PSNI’s Chief Superintendent Chris Noble, the District Commander for the Coleraine area commented

“Police recently met privately with local DUP party members to address some of their concerns with regards to policing in Coleraine. It was clearly communicated by me at that meeting that the Police Service have been, and will continue to address any forms of criminality and disorder in Coleraine robustly and effectively.

“This is evidenced by the significant drop in crime and anti social behaviour levels which over the last four years have seen crime in the Coleraine area decrease by 916 crimes (20% decrease), criminal damage fall by 347 crimes (36% decrease) whilst violent crime resulting in injury has reduced by 156 crimes (21% decrease).

“Anti social behaviour has reduced by 1970 incidents (a fall of 21%). Whilst these are statistics and no doubt will be derided as such they also represent people who have been protected from the scourge of crime and I have no doubt that if such reductions were reversed the local Police Service would be subject to significant criticism.

“The Police Service is accountable to and operates within the rule of law and whilst we share the concerns many people have about crime in Coleraine we will always operate within that framework; dealing in facts and not conjecture.

“Police tackle serious criminality not only through visible Neighbourhood Patrol Officers but also through specialist CID Investigators and dedicated Crime Teams both of which are based in and serve the people of Coleraine and relentlessly pursue the criminals who operate within Coleraine.

“Tackling crime and resolving tensions and disputes which have built up over many years is neither easy nor purely a policing problem with a simple policing solution although we are absolutely committed to playing our part every day and night in tackling such issues.

“Despite the fact that policing is conducted against a background of severe terrorist threat and is being delivered with nearly half as many police officers as 15 years ago it has never been more successful in preventing and tackling crime.

“This only serves to ensure that we continue this trend but also to work harder at effectively communicating the positive story of policing in Coleraine. Policing relies to a large extent on public support and confidence and it is incumbent on all communities and stakeholders to see that that support is built upon and not eroded.

“The views communicated to Police at the end of our recent private meeting were that the meeting had been helpful and worthwhile whilst recognising that strong concerns were still present.

The Area Commander concluded by saying that the new Police and Community Safety Partnerships will provide a mechanism for the monitoring of local Police performance to be effectively assessed .”