A 15-year-old boy is taking legal action after he was allegedly stopped and searched as a terrorist suspect.
The youth, who cannot be identified, claims the Police Service of Northern Ireland unlawfully breached his rights as a child by the detention in west Belfast.
No reasonable grounds were given for justifying the action taken against the schoolboy, his lawyers contend.
His challenge has been listed for a hearing at the High Court later this month.
According the schoolboy’s solicitor he was in a car being driven by his father when police stopped them in September last year.
He was allegedly required to get out of the vehicle and stand on a footpath for an officer to search him under section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
The legislation enables police to detain and search anyone reasonably suspected of being a terrorist for any evidence.
Nothing was found on the boy, it was stressed.
He is seeking to judicially review the PSNI’s decision to carry out the actions on him.
A challenge is also being brought against the Northern Ireland Secretary of State over an alleged failure to issue a code of practice for the stop and search powers which adequately protects the best interests of the child.
The boy’s solicitor, Michael Brentnall of Brentnall Legal Limited, said: “Our client, a minor, was searched by PSNI officers under the Terrorism Act, effectively on the basis that he was a terrorist.
“We state that by conducting such a search on him in the absence of reasonable grounds that he was a terrorist, the PSNI have not only acted unlawfully, but have strayed into territory whereby they have total disregard for the rights of children.
“This legislation is not covered by a code of practice which adequately covers the use of this power against a child.”
Referring to a suggestion by Chief Constable Simon Byrne that the sons or daughters of paramilitaries could be taken into care, Mr Brentnall added: “We will also be requesting whether these actions form the basis of a new PSNI policy in respect of children.”
With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph and Alan Erwin for the original story
West Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly called for it to be taken down, saying it was “despicable”.
He said: “Any threat – and this can only be read as a threat – to children is abhorrent and I condemn it.”
Father Martin Magill said the appearance of the retaliatory mural showed “the extent of feeling against his comments”.
The priest added that he was “shocked by what the Chief Constable had to say”.
He added: “I will support policing and I stand by my recent call for Catholic recruitment, but when the police get something wrong I believe in calling it out.”
Mr Byrne has been facing a backlash over the comments he made during a conference in Belfast on Wednesday.
He suggested that measures taken against paramilitaries could include seizure of their homes and cars, while their children could be taken into state care.
The following day he clarified that he had never intended to suggest young people be used as a weapon or pawn in the fight against paramilitarism.
Mr Byrne told the Policing Board on Thursday: “I would not want the message to go out that I am trying to hold the Sword of Damocles over parents.”
Expressing his shock, Fr Magill told the Belfast Telegraph that the police chief’s remarks were “far from helpful”.
“Let’s be very clear, children should not be used as weapons, nor are children assets,” he said.
“The paramilitary crime taskforce talk about seizing property, cars and houses, for example, but it would be immoral to put children in the same bracket.” In an interview with this newspaper this week, Fr Magill encouraged Catholics to take up a career in the PSNI to help redress the under-representation of that community in the police.
But the priest, who won widespread praise for his challenging address at the funeral of Lyra McKee, in which he effectively criticised Northern Ireland politicians for their lack of leadership, said Mr Byrne had got it wrong this time.
“Children are not weapons, or assets,” he said. “It also raises the whole question of the traumatisation of children – that would be my big concern. Something like that would absolutely traumatise children.”
Fr Magill noted that Mr Byrne’s remarks, which provoked the graffiti in the Lenadoon area, came at the same time that plans were announced for 400 new neighbourhood police officers to be rolled out.
“At this stage the strength of feeling should be very, very clear and it’s very important to find ways to address that and to find a way to calm those fears and bring down the level of anxiety,” he said.
“What he said has obviously heightened tension and we need to find a way to bring down that tension. I’m concerned this has added fuel to the fire in sensitive communities.
“The whole question of policing is very sensitive. I’m very concerned and it’s really important that we draw an end to this.”
Describing himself as “a critical friend”, Fr Magill (58) revealed that he himself had been criticised for speaking up about PSNI recruitment, adding “these remarks have not been helpful”.
He suggested that Mr Byrne could put an end to the situation by taking positive action.
“The ball is in the Chief Constable’s court at the moment,” he added.
“We need clarity from him and maybe he needs to ask himself is it better to withdraw the comments completely.”
Mr Kelly, who is Sinn Fein policing spokesman, said whoever is behind the graffiti “should be ashamed of themselves”.
“Any threat to children is not only unacceptable, it’s disgusting. It should not be happening,” he said.
“My criticism over Simon Byrne was that when he said he would take away children as a deterrent it was not a safeguarding issue, it was an issue of using children as a threat to parents.
“I disagreed with what he said, I asked him to withdraw it. He didn’t fully withdraw it but he withdrew a section of what he said in terms of the idea that they’d be used as pawns and as a deterrent and that was helpful.”
Ulster Unionist policing spokesman Alan Chambers said he didn’t support Sinn Fein’s demand for the Chief Constable to withdraw his comments.
“I fully understood where the CC was coming from and I was completely satisfied with the clarification he gave,” he said.
“I would have thought that all right thinking people would recognise just what the chief constable was implying with his recent remarks, especially after his subsequent clarification.
“Anything that makes a terrorist understand that their actions will carry far reaching consequences has to be welcomed.”
With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph and Claire O’Neill for the original story
Thirty-five thousand children were subject to stop and search by the PSNI between 2011 and 2019, according to research by two academics.
It also suggests that between 2005 and 2016 the use of the powers increased by 74% in Northern Ireland.
In England and Wales over the same period its use fell by 75%.
On Wednesday, Queen’s University is hosting a conference on young people, policing and stop and search powers in Northern Ireland.
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The research was conducted by Queen’s academic John Topping and Ben Bradford of the University of Central London, who will both be taking part in the conference.
Also attending will be PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne, Prof Ann Skelton of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child and Koulla Yiasouma, the commissioner for children and young people for Northern Ireland.
The research also found that the arrest rate resulting from stop and search in Northern Ireland was 7%, compared with 17% in England and Wales.
In Northern Ireland, stop and search can be used under “ordinary” policing powers, as in the rest of UK, and also under terrorism and security legislation.
About 70% of stop and searches in Northern Ireland are carried out under everyday powers, the majority of them under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
There are an average of 31,000 stop and searches carried out each year in Northern Ireland, about 22,000 of which are under ordinary policing powers rather than terrorism related.
Including terrorist-related stops, the stop rate was 17 per 1,000 of population in 2016-17 – 13 per 1,000 excluding terrorism stops.
That compared to an average of five per 1,000 in England and Wales.
Dr Topping, one of the authors of the research, said the conference “represents a timely and much needed examination of issues related to the policing of children and young people”.
He added: “While much of the past 20 years have been about structural and systemic changes to policing here, children and young people have tended to remain on the margins of the police reform process.”
In a statement, the PSNI said that there are different threshold levels to conduct a stop and search in Northern Ireland than in England and Wales.
“The PSNI do not regard arrest as the only positive outcome as a result of stop and search,” said a spokesman.
“The primary purpose of stop and search is to enable officers to allay or confirm their suspicions without exercising their power of arrest.”
“Since April 2019, 749 young people were stopped and searched with three-quarters being under Misuse of Drugs legislation.
“This is a proactive response to the increase in young people losing their lives whilst under the influence of drugs and a direct response to community concerns.”
The spokesman said there has been a 34% decrease in stop and search of children and young people over the last five years.
Paddy Kelly, the director of the Children’s Law Centre, said 15 to 17-year-old boys are four times more likely to be stopped than anyone else in Northern Ireland.
“The high rate of stop and search of young people is an ongoing concern,” she added.
Paul Rodgers of Include Youth said: “It would seem that the negative impact in terms of the damage caused to relations between young people and the police far outweighs any benefits of the stop and search process.”
With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story
Stop and searchPolice Service of Northern Ireland
The PSNI now admits it has around 3,000 Troubles weapons in its possession
Back in 1998 the RUC put on display some of the weapons it had recovered from terrorist hides. The PSNI now admits it has around 3,000 Troubles weapons in its possession
After prolonged investigations by the News Letter – in part dating back to 2006 – the PSNI has revealed that it has around 3,000 Troubles-related weapons which can potentially be tested for DNA evidence as part of legacy investigations.
The sheer volume of the weapons and the admission of continued viability of DNA testing on them prompted calls for a public inquiry, with some beleaguered campaigners having fought battles for decades for active investigations into the murder of their loved ones.
Kenny Donaldson, spokesman for Innocent Victims United, said: “The volume of weapons held by the PSNI is very substantial and many people will be surprised by the disclosure that around 3,000 weapons exist and are available as part of the legacy investigative process.”
In October then chief constable George Hamilton said that only 4% of outstanding Troubles murders could be solved because so many weapons had been decommissioned.
This prompted the News Letter to reopen the story of how the Forensic Service of NI (FSNI) had revealed in 2006 that it had “a container load” of Troubles weapons – and that it was confident of being able to exploit them forensically for prosecutions. A senior FSNI official made the boast to the Duke of York during a Royal visit to their headquarters in March 2006 which the News Letter attended.
The official said the technology then existed to allow them to test the weapons for DNA, screen out irrelevant DNA, and to tie the weapons to suspects via familial DNA links.
Since then the News Letter has persistently asked where the “container load of weapons” went and whether they were ever DNA tested.
Inquiries have seen a secretary of state quizzed face-to-face as well as the PSNI, Historical Enquiries Team and various other prominent politicians pressed for answers.
A criminal prosecution for the Omagh bomb fell through in 2007 due to concerns about relying on trace amounts of DNA.
However, since then other UK forces have confirmed FSNI’s 2006 boast that they had the ongoing viability to screen out irrelevant DNA and even to take DNA from sweat which has soaked inside guns.
Last year a 35-year-old man was convicted after police found his DNA on a 9mm pistol in Carrickfergus.
The admissions from FSNI and the PSNI came as the News Letter was about to publish a story highlighting that the FSNI had been unable to give any detail under the Freedom of Information Act on the volume or type of weapons it held during its Royal presentation in 2006.
UUP MLA Doug Beattie asked if DNA tests on the weapons might link them to politicians. “However politically inconvenient such an outcome might be, that is no excuse for not carrying these tests out,” he added.
Mr Donaldson said: “The volume of weapons held by the PSNI is very substantial and many people will be surprised by the disclosure that around 3,000 weapons exist and are available as part of the legacy investigative process.
“Many will also question the previously bleak outlook painted by DOJ and the PSNI concerning future prosecutions given the clear ability to DNA test these weapons”.
Calling for a public inquiry, he asked if government has sought to “subvert the criminal justice system for reasons of political expediency?”.
In October ACC George Clarke flatly denied there was ever a “container load of weapons” and would only go so far as to confirm that the PSNI held “some” guns.
“There is no container full of weapons held by FSNI nor was there such a container in 2006,” he said. “FSNI did have in their possession at that time, for storage purposes only, some weapons which had been seized by PSNI over a number of years.”
But Mr Clarke told the News Letter last night that, in fact, police hold 3,000 relevant weapons.
One source in the victims sector responded: “3,000 weapons would constitute a substantial container load.”
Mr Clarke said that the PSNI Legacy Investigations Branch has over 1,100 investigations which relate to over 1,400 deaths during the Troubles. “These cases are reviewed in accordance with our case sequencing model,” he said.
“As each of these cases is reviewed, professional advice is obtained as to any current forensic opportunities which might exist using contemporary scientific methods in addition to any previous testing carried out. This includes the potential for DNA examination of related exhibits, which would include weapons connected to the investigation, for example by ballistic evidence.
“As was confirmed in our statement last year, the weapons held by FSNI in 2006, are now held by the PSNI and are available for examination in course of LIB enquiries. PSNI hold around 3,000 weapons. When recovered these weapons would have been tested to the standards of the time; as cases are reviewed the application of today’s scientific techniques is considered.”
With many thanks to the: News Letter for the original story
THE Policing Board and Department of Justice (PBDJ) made by the Criminal Justice Inspection (CJINI) are considered and implemented.
It follows a review by CJINI on the role of work of policing and Community Safety Partnerships (PCSPs). SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly (pictured) and Anthony Harbinson, who co-chairs the PCSP Joint Committee, which oversees the work of the partnerships on behalf of the Policing Board and the Department of Justice, welcomed the report.
“Over the last few years, the board and the department of justice have been working closely with the PCSPs to make improvements to increase their overall effectiveness and ensure that they are delivering outcome based initiatives which help make our communities safer,” they said.
With many thanks to the: Irish News for the original story
IRSP Falls Road – PSNI THUGS RAID THE HOME OF ALEX MURPHY Little more than 24 hours after his funeral, shameless British PSNI thugs have raided the home of Alex Murphy in the lower Falls. A number of local residents have contacted the IRSP in the area making clear their complete disgust at this action by the front line of Britain in Ireland, as well as disgust at those who continually prop up these thugs and attempt to integrate them into our communities. Our thoughts are with the Murphy family at this time. | Facebook