“in order to ensure the safety of the community and the officers responding…”

The BBC reports that the PSNI have defended the delay of over an hour before officers arrived at the scene of a car bomb alert in Newry on Saturday night.  Unlike the security alert on Friday in the Newry area, this one was eventually declared a hoax.  From the BBC report

A hijacked taxi, containing a suspect device, was abandoned close to houses on Martins Lane on Saturday night.

Residents used their own cars to block the road and tried to divert traffic themselves as they waited for police.

The PSNI said they did not attend immediately for safety reasons. The alert was later declared a hoax.

Police were told about the alert shortly after 21:30 BST and they began the evacuation shortly after 22:30 BST.

The taxi had been hijacked by two masked men who put a hoax bomb inside.

It was then driven towards Martins Lane, a residential area close to the main Belfast to Dublin road, where it was abandoned. Up to 20 houses were evacuated during the alert.

Army Technical Officers (ATO) were called and the device was declared a hoax just before 03:00 BST on Sunday.

It’s an area in which police have been criticised before for their response to security alerts.

Of course, they could probably have attended the scene sooner, and more fully, in both cases.  If they had been able to call for a military escort…

[But it’s a “fully civic policing service”! – Ed]  Indeed.  As the BBC report notes

In a statement, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said their investigation began “immediately” and officers had “worked as quickly as possible, planning and assessing, in order to ensure the safety of the community and the officers responding.”

Area Commander Chief Inspector Anthony McNally said: “We, in Newry, are committed to investigating this security alert but we have an over-riding responsibility to protect and preserve life, and that includes the lives of the community and the lives of our own officers.

“For this reason, some situations may have to be dealt with cautiously due to the significant threat from a small number of people who have shown their determination to kill police officers.”

Chief Inspector McNally thanked the residents of Martins Lane who “showed such community spirit in dealing with this incident”.

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  • andnowwhat

    A year or so we had a case, also in Newry, where the fire service took the job of diverting people away from the area.

    t’s kind of hard, after the Steven Carrol case, to just attack the police but people do have a right to be protected by the police.

  • “showed such community spirit in dealing with this incident”

    Is this what is really meant by the term ‘civic policing’? Policing by the people in the first instance?

  • Reader

    sherdy: The police waited almost two hours before entering the area of the hoax – how much safer was it after that delay?
    The security forces would put an outer cordon in place before moving into the area. The bombers might still get a few, but they aren’t so likely to have an easy getaway. It’s this sort of lesson that has made dissident activity so much less appealing than in the old days.
    Either that, or the police were finishing their tea break.

  • alan56

    We can only hope that the police response (or lack of it) was for genuinely ‘security’ reasons and not a diversion to hide the fact that they have not sufficient resources. The public need to know whats going on..

  • Nevin. It looks like a hirarhy of priority towns is in place so if it’s Newry or some other mainly nationalist area, the people are left to fend for themselves, and if it’s mainly unionist town, the police do their own job. The more things change and all that.

  • ardmajel55, it would be nice to be able to speak freely but the clout of paramilitaries inhibits such frankness.

    Mainly Unionist and mainly Nationalist towns are indeed treated differently, sometimes for political reasons, sometimes for security reasons.

    Paramilitaries rule the roost in many places but the police are more likely to be shot or bombed by Republicans than by Loyalists; the latter are more likely to use arson or iron bars against officers or their families.

    When it comes to political policing, some paramilitaries have immunity certificates but ordinary folks in mainly Unionist towns are likely to be treated more severely for, say, traffic offences because of the perceived need to protect the political process.

  • Fair enough, nevin. btw I can spell hierarchy but this keyboard leaves out the odd letter. no edit facility here.

  • ardmajel55, perhaps I should have elaborated about ‘political policing’. Prior to the arrival of the Department of Justice London and Dublin civil servants would have processed contentious issues with the really difficult ones being decided at the top political level by London and Dublin ministers with London going solo if a compromise couldn’t be reached; that mechanism may still be in place. Unsurprisingly, the politicians will allow the police to take the flak if things go badly awry.

  • ‘unsurprisingly, the politicians will allow the police to take the flak if things go badly awry’

    Not much altruism in the politician make up then.
    quelle surprise?

  • Barnshee

    “Paramilitaries rule the roost in many places but the police are more likely to be shot or bombed by Republicans than by Loyalists; the latter are more likely to use arson or iron bars against officers or their families”

    Correct the police response I have heard in similar situations quote * I dont care if the fuckers ear each other Im not getting hurt for anyone”