On transforming Loyalist attitudes to policing

Fionnuala Meredith talks to Dawn Purvis, the PUP’s newly appointed member on the Policing Board and, by the reckoning of some, one of the party’s most talented players. She talks about her reasons for taking up the post and how it relates to her view of the role of politics in transforming attitudes (subs needed) within her own core Loyalist constituency:

“Policing is all about dealing with crime and crime prevention. What the PUP is about is ensuring an end to criminality, ensuring that people who at one point turned to violence now use democratic means to deal with issues.” But if she knew UVF members were taking part in criminal behaviour, would she have any difficulty reporting that? “None whatsoever. If I see a crime in the street, I report it, no matter who’s involved. Those same principles are held by the leadership of the PUP, the leadership of the UVF, the leadership of the Red Hand. Criminality is totally wrong, whether drug-dealing, extortion, pimping, breaking and entering – it doesn’t matter what it is, it’s wrong, against the law.”

Purvis is determined to use her new position to tackle the deep sense of alienation and hostility towards the police that causes disaffected youngsters to scrawl “PSNI scum” on walls and gable-ends in loyalist areas. “This is one of my main motivations for joining the board. How many police recruits come from Sandy Row? Or the Shankill Road? They probably get more recruits into policing from the Bogside or the Falls.”

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty