09 July 2005

UDA-linked Group To Distribute 'Anti-police' Leaflets

Derry Journal

Friday 8th July 2005

The Derry branch of the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) is to press ahead with plans to distribute 5,000 leaflets urging local Protestants to report police 'harassment'.

Local PSNI chiefs have branded the leaflets - entitled "Policing in Londonderry - A Community Matter" - as 'anti-police'.

The flyer includes a questionnaire asking respondents if they have ever suffered police harassment.

The handout also urges anyone claiming maltreatment to report their cases to the URPG, Police Ombudsman, the city's District Policing Partnership (DPP), the Protestant Interface group (PIN) or a solicitor.

Contact details for all groups are included in the leaflet.

The leaflet also asks respondents if they have ever been physically attacked by a police officer, if their homes have been raided or if they have been stopped and searched.

A PSNI spokesman said the leaflet put a Waterside partnership programme involving police and community leaders at risk.

However, the UPRG - which has links to the UDA --denied the police assertion, insisting Protestants were keen to work with police on a range of issues including tackling anti-social behaviour, on-street drinking and interface tensions.

UPRG spokesman David Nicholl added that police, "like all other organisations", had a duty to "face facts" and remove a minority of "troublemakers" from its ranks.

Mr. Nicholl said residents in unionist areas of Derry were of the opinion that police were more " heavyhanded" in dealing with young Protestants compared to youths in Catholic areas.

Mr. Nicholl said 50 "trial" leaflets were distributed two weekends ago outside pubs and clubs.

"As a result, two fresh complaints, relating to incidents in Lincoln Courts and Nelson Drive, which otherwise would not have come to light, have been made to the Ombudsman," he said.

He insisted the UPRG would go ahead with a door-todoor drop of 5,000 leaflets. However, this will not take place until after July 12.

He also cautioned police against withdrawing from a local partnership programme which allows officers to contact community representatives in the event of trouble.

A PSNI spokesman insisted police had not withdrawn from the scheme which has been upandrunning for three years.

"We are considering our position, but these leaflets are anti-police and very unhelpful in terms of undermining the good relationship between the community and the police," said a PSNI spokesman.

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