Q&A: District Policing Partnership meeting

The questions and answers arising from the Dungannon and South Tyrone District Policing Partnership public meeting on Wednesday, November 16.

Written answers to each question were made by Chief Inspector Jane Humphries, the area commander.

>Coalisland Post report on the meeting

To what extent have police-community relations been damaged following the high-profile police operation in which five people were arrested in connection with the murder of Ronan Kerr, but subsequently released without charge? To what extent have community relations been affected in the Coalisland area in particular due to this police operation?

This has had an affect on community relations in the area. We have had feed back from community reps to which we have listen too. This is still an ongoing investigation and as such we cannot discuss anything further. I would like to add that the community continues to support us in our investigation.

What crimes are of particular concern to police in Coalisland?

The main issues are anti-social behaviour, drugs, and traffic offences. My team is pro-active in trying to deal with the quality-of-life issues which affect the community. We ask if the community can help please make contact with my team.

How regularly do police carry out patrols and surveillance of the Coalisland area? How has police presence in the town changed over the years following the closure of the town’s police barracks?

Police are in contact with residents of Coalisland on a daily basis however, would not wish to be exact regarding specific patrols for obvious security reasons.

Is the issue of people not coming forward with information still a problem for police in the Coalisland area?

Police will always pro-actively seek to improve the communication with the public in Coalisland in order to provide a professional, protective and personal service to the local residents.

How widespread is drug-dealing the Coalisland area, and what is being done to tackle it?

The community perception is that there is a drugs problem in the area and as such we being pro-active around this issue. We would encourage the community to help us to identify those who are involved.

Do pubs in Coalisland need to do more to help tackle late-night anti-social behaviour in the town?

Police NPT are in the process of arranging a suitable venue in order to liaise with all the local publicans in the near future to discuss this very issue.  Most premises run a good house.  There are less people drinking in pubs now, most drinking takes place within the home.

Councillor Dessie Donnelly: Can the PSNI give an update on what measures they have taken to deal with the anti-social behaviour at Innishmore, Coalisland? What are the PSNI doing to protect the residents of the Innishmore?  Have there been any arrests or prosecutions in relation to anti-social behaviour around the Innishmore area in the past 12 months?

We are working with our partner agencies to address the issues in the area. From a 16-point action plan the PSNI have ownership of four:

  • Series of joint PSNI/Dog warden inspections
  • Enforce the No Drinking by-laws
  • Complaints/reports regarding traffic violations to be speedily investigated.
  • General increase in level of policing for the Area and community to be provided with the name of a link person within the PSNI.

Frances Burton: How many firework-related incidents were there over the Halloween period?  I have heard that some fireworks may have been bought from school friends and perhaps during school hours. Were there any firework seizures?  Did PSNI do any work in schools to educate young people about the dangers of fireworks?

The information to this is on a district level. I can tell you that approx 5,000 fireworks were seized, 67 incidents reported where fireworks were seized and eight anticipated prosecutions to follow. To my knowledge there no fireworks seized from any school in the Borough over the Halloween period. My schools officer delivers an educational programme around the dangers of fireworks. I must add that parents have a responsibility to ensure young people are aware of the dangers involved.

Where there any attacks on the emergency services over the Halloween period?  What level of partnership working exists between the PSNI and other emergency services in relation to Halloween?  For example, if Fire Service personnel noticed tyres on a bonfire, would they contact police or environmental agency to make arrangements to have them removed?

We work very closely with are partner agencies in the run up to Halloween. As for the tyres on the bonfire, the Environmental Agency would be contacted.

How many outlets selling fireworks were checked to ensure the licence requirements were in order and were any detected without a licence or in breach of their licence?

Four outlets in the borough selling fireworks. These were checked. No reported incidents.

Please provide a report on road safety for the six month period including information in relation to causation factors and the number and type of road policing operations, enforcements, etc

The table shows the causation factors across the borough.  My officers along with roads policing are patrolling the borough daily. The use of the speed cameras and patrolling areas which have been identified by the analyst have helped to reduce the road traffic collisions.

Alcohol/Drugs – Driver/RiderExcess Speed having regard to conditionsCareless DrivingPedestrian FaultAlcohol/Drugs PedestrianOther FactorsTotal

Road and armed support operations are taking place on a daily basis. A main focus is speed enforcement.

Operations are also specific to:

1. Operations with DVA towards vehicles used on roads including taxis, HGV’s and modified cars.

2. Operations along the border with GARDA against drink driving and dangerous driving.

3. Intelligence-led operations against known disqualified drivers/drink drivers.

4. Operations in partnership with HM Customs.

5. Operations against anti social driving styles i.e. local car parks etc.

Please provide details of the number of alcohol seizures from underage drinkers and inspections of licensed premises over the past six month period

From April 1, 18 seizures have been made by police. In total 47 items of alcohol have been removed from the streets. The youngest offender was 16 years of age.

My teams are routinely inspecting licensed premises as part of their everyday duty.

Have any licensees been detected or prosecuted within the six month period for selling alcohol to minors or for other breaches of the licensing laws?  If so, how many and what was the nature of these detections/prosecutions?  Has the PSNI objected to the renewal of any licenses during the six month period and if so, what was the outcome?

In general the pubs are well run in the borough. A number of premises have been detected for breaching licensing hours. The main offence is after-hours drinking. We have three premises across the borough who we are seeking to take to court.

Can you provide us with detailed information about how Crimestoppers information is processed and used by PSNI?  Given that information is provided anonymously, how is it checked for accuracy?  If the community are to have confidence in the PSNI, they need to know that information they provide will be acted upon.  How can outcomes achieved through Crimestoppers be measured?

Crimestoppers is an independent charity and information on its operations is available on the website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Anonymity is crucial to the way Crimestoppers operates.  The charity and the PSNI have an understanding that police will not publicly discuss whether or not information pertaining to an incident was received from Crimestoppers.

When information is received by Crimestoppers, it carries out checks to ensure that it is detailed enough to be passed to the PSNI.

Information goes to a PSNI coordinator, before being passed on to the relevant police area or department. Crimestoppers makes follow-up checks with the coordinators to ascertain whether the information was useful. However, the charity does not release details on whether its information helped ‘solve’ a case.

On a general note, police get information from a range of sources, including members of the public.  All information is assessed as fully as possible for accuracy before being acted upon.  Sometimes a new piece of information can help corroborate something that we have learnt from other sources.  We never ignore information that could assist in preventing a crime, or detecting offenders.

Councillor Frances Burton: As you know, there was a considerable amount of flooding following the heavy rain on the week commencing October 17.  I am well aware that flooding issues are not the responsibility of the PSNI, however, a number of roads were blocked due to the flood water.  There was the potential for collisions due to the build-up of vehicles, but very little signage to warn motorists that roads were blocked. To what extent do the PSNI work in partnership with DRD RoadService to alleviate the hazards experienced by motorists using the roads in these dangerous conditions? Will the level of partnership working between Road Service and PSNI be strengthened now that flooding has become a regular feature of our winter weather pattern?

We already work closely with other statutory agencies throughout the year and frequently receive calls from the public about hazards on the roads.

While not all that occur are reported to us, our practice is to pass any information we receive on as quickly as possible to the DOE Roads Service.

We will, where required, assist in closing flooded roads and manning diversion points.  In an example of just one incident, police maintained an all-night presence in the village of Beragh in late October when fears were raised that a bridge was in danger of collapsing.

Our corporate communications department also utilises its extensive links with the media to give the public warnings of road hazards and closures.

Councillor Frances Burton: Also, I have been told by a lady whose home was flooded that she approached a police officer to ask his advice about where she could get some sand bags. He told her he didn’t know and left it at that. I think it is important that when you ask any public servant for help, they at least try to assist you. This lady was very disappointed that he did not even try to help her, at what was a very worrying and distressing time for her

I can only apologise for this event, but not knowing the full facts I cannot comment on the officer’s response.  If the councillor gives me more details perhaps I can speak to the officer in question.

Evelyn Frew: At present what are the staffing levels of each of the three PSNI neighbourhood policing teams in DAST?

Coalisland – 1 + 6

Dungannon Urban – 1 + 6

Clogher Valley – 1 + 5

Evelyn Frew: At what stage are the repairs being carried out at Aughnacloy PSNI station?

Due to technical problems with the equipment it has been put back. At this stage I’m not aware for how long.

Bronwyn McGahan: Can the PSNI provide an update on racist attacks in the Moygashel area?

This is part of an ongoing police investigation. I can say that persons involved have moved away from the area.

Councillor Phelim Gildernew: What is the PSNI strategy for reducing race-motivated attacks on foreign nationals and their homes in Dungannon and South Tyrone?

  • Work with employers
  • Other representative groups.
  • CSP
  • Leaflet drops
  • Media
  • Schools
  • Get evidence

Bronwyn McGahan: Can the PSNI give an update on the use of ‘test purchase’ powers used to expose off-licenses that sell alcohol to minors in Dungannon and South Tyrone?

Measures have been put in place to enable us to test purchase.  This is at the early stages; volunteers have not been identified as yet. As you all are aware it would be not appropriate to discuss operational details.

Councillor Frances Burton: Had anyone been detected speeding on the new dual carriageway from Ballygawley roundabout to Dungannon and why are there no signs detailing the speed limit along this stretch of road?

This is a dual carriage and as such the speed limit is 70mph. The reason for no signage is that everyone should know the speed limit as everyone should know the limit on a motorway or single carriage road if not otherwise stated. If the DPP would like they could raise the matter with Road Services and make a request for signs.


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