17 November 2005

CCTV row rages

Irelandclick.com

Sinn Féin hit out at DUP in call for West Belfast cameras

By Roisin McManus

Sinn Féin in West Belfast have hit out at remarks made by the DUP’s Peter Robinson on CCTV in the area.

The Deputy Leader of the DUP has called on Chief Constable Hugh Orde to explain why there is no CCTV in West Belfast.

He said that the PSNI were guilty of partisan policing for failing to introduce the cameras in the West of the city.

The East Belfast MP said that CCTV is an invaluable tool in combating crime.

“Given that CCTV has proven to be so successful in the rest of Belfast, why shouldn’t West Belfast be placed under the scrutiny of these systems whenever CCTV has been in place in other parts of Belfast since as long ago as 2000?” said Mr Robinson.

“Is the absence of any CCTV cameras at all in the West Belfast District Command Unit because Sinn Féin/IRA have made it clear that they are opposed to them?

“Responsible public representatives should be demanding that their areas and the people they represent are protected by CCTV,” added Mr Robinson.

The DUP man said that he sees no reason why West Belfast shouldn’t have CCTV.

“It isn’t as if West Belfast is crime free. Far from it,” said Mr Robinson.

“The police’s own statistics show that between April and September this year offences against the person are up 37 per cent, domestic burglaries are up 43 per cent, robberies are up 49 per cent and criminal damage is up 30 per cent on the same period last year,” he added.

Responding to the remarks, Upper Falls Sinn Féin Councillor Michael Browne said: “Peter Robinson seemingly forgets that West Belfast has been under considerably greater levels of surveillance than other parts of the city. Not so long ago state of the art surveillance apparatus could have been found at Divis Tower, at two Springfield Road barrack locations, Andersonstown barracks, and Woodbourne barracks.

“The experience of course of people living in West Belfast has been that this apparatus did nothing to assist residents in the battle against criminal activity,” he said.

The local councillor said that this evidence makes a nonsense of any suggestion that CCTV would impact on crime related statistics.

“Anyone genuinely interested in combating crime in West Belfast would begin by recognising the need for policing arrangements that would enjoy the confidence of local people and that would actually set about addressing criminal activity.

“Today’s policing deficit not only allows the perpetrators of crime to act with impunity but in many cases it has been proven that rather than challenge the relatively small criminal element in the constituency, those charged with policing responsibilities actually work with the criminally minded to advance their own sinister agenda,” he added.

Journalist:: Roisin McManus


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