Baggott: Fear within communities retards convictions for punishment beatings and shootings…

Matt Baggott on Nolan says that more and more people are turning to the PSNI to give information. He also notes (before getting abruptly cut off in the audioboo edit) the sheer organisation of local paramilitary regimes handing out sentences as though they were part of some local, unofficial judiciary. As the CC himself notes it is the fear within communities, and “the obscenity in a European democracy of a father taking his child to be shot by appointment”.

If you log into the programme just about the hour, you can listen to the distinctly off topic responses from both Jeffrey Donaldson (‘we’re spending £80 mill in deprived communities”) and Gerry Kelly, who majors on that rather convenient #darkside meme, to avoid the problem in hand… i.e. the abuse of children and young adults in certain working class communities in the name of summary justice.

, ,

  • Dec

    ‘ avoid the problem in hand… i.e. the abuse of children and young adults in certain working class communities in the name of summary justice.’


    Probably time to apply the 5 Whys technique to determine the root cause of the problem as opposed to the problem itself.

  • andnowwhat

    Nolan gave 2 examples of people who did come forward. One had their car attacked and it took the police 5 weeks to come and do forensics. As I recall, the CC wants people to take the witness stand. What world does he live in?

    The thing about saying that he will get these guys, should it be on a car/traffic offence was just awful.

  • Neil

    Dunno. Now people were saying, years ago, that if the cops didn’t pull the finger out and get into Nationalist communities to provide safety and justice, that someone else would drift into that void to generate support.

    From what I can see of the many, many convicted robbers, car thieves, muggers and so on enjoying their freedom these days a more apt title might be ‘PSNI retard convictions for crimes’.

    If we work from one fairly solid assumption, which is that the people being attacked are being attacked for some reason or another, generally terrorising people might be one, then if Matt and his posse of well fed coppers had done their job right, the victim would have been safely tucked up in Maghaberry and no attacks would have taken place.

    Either way you swing it, looks to me like Matt’s found a handy excuse he can trot out for the police being crap at their jobs and not catching people who attack people who are only on the loose because, um, the cops were crap at their job last year too.

  • sherdy

    Its the paramilitaries’ fault. Its the public’s fault for not producing cast-iron evidence. Its the victims’ fault for not avoiding their problem. But it just can’t be the fault of Matt Baggott and his henchmen.

  • Fr.Tom

    hope the soon to be announced operation yield results.
    Don’t think you’ll ever get such an open genuine interview
    as that with Mr.Nolan, and still they complain.
    You’d never get a politician of any hue being as candid.

  • cynic2

    The problem is Matt that communities look and see two sets of paramilitaries – those who are favoured and work with PSNI who don’t disturb their little ‘private enterprises’ and those who don’t work with PSNI but who might in the future – so why should they go out on a limb?

  • carl marks

    wow for once i agree with you , quick pass the smelling salts 😀

  • Mick Fealty

    Good book on the subject worth getting is Helen Hamill’s Hoods: Crime and Punishment in Belfast. One respondent notes how intractable the problem seems to have become:

    These young men seemed to consider the severity of their punishment and the urgency with which they were sought by paramilitaries as proof of their personal significance. The used this and their experience of being shot as major elements in their presentation of self. They seemed to want to impress the listeners, and perhaps themselves, of their quick witted and “cool” response to extreme danger and pain.”

    Hamill does not seem to consider it, but I wonder if some kind of longitudinal study might relate these conditions to long term high rates of suicide?

    I only ask because I know of several kids who got into trouble with local paramilitaries a few years back, and speaking to one of them recently there seems to have been mortality rate within their cohort that strike me as abnormally high for people who are now, or would be, in their mid twenties.

  • tacapall

    The unfortunate truth about life in areas like Poleglass, Divis, Turf Lodge etc is that there is no rule of law, some young people are beyond control, their purpose in life it seems is to rob, steal, wreak, ruin and hurt others who innocently cross their paths for money or just for the fun of it, they fear no-one and their victims see this in the cold light of day. The PSNI allow these young gangsters to do all those things above, the dogs in the streets would tell you they are well known to the PSNI, on first name terms you could say. They are like parasites living off each other, the young social misfits get to do what they like and the PSNI get information through blackmail or encouraging these young people to join those same paramilitaries who they are promising to thwart as informers. Matt Baggott regularly espouses the need for informers and he is following a well tread path by his predecessors the RUC. These punishment beatings and shootings are a blessing for Baggott, it keeps those dissidents occupied within their own communities harming only their own children while MI5 and the PSNI sit back and observe happy in the knowledge that street justice is being served and ultimately the likes of ONH are being sidetracked into a vigilante war. This is life in Catholic areas, probably the same in loyalist areas and in terms of importance anti social behaviour is way down the list for the PSNI but in the interests of distraction and intelligence gathering its an acceptable level of criminality.

  • babyface finlayson

    It’s one thing being known to the PSNI another thing finding hard evidence to obtain a conviction.
    Surely that is the simple explanation without resorting to conspiracy?

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m sure there are things the PSNI can and could do, but it most also be clear that what Hamill calls non-statutory crime control does not work either.

    In fact, it is undoubtedly helping to give the impression that due process is less effective than it might be (given full community backing) if various organisations were not offering summary justice in which the punishment is seen to be done, regardless of its poor effect on longer term outcomes.

    She notes in particular:

    In Republican areas, the conditions of a demand for policing and the presence of a willing and capable supplier, who from the very early days of the Troubles monopolised the use of violence, have been been present.

    The eruption of political violence in the 1970s and the consequent deterioration of relations between the police and the local population increased the costs to residents of using the statutory system and created the demand for non state policing.

    This demand was met and fostered by the IRA, whose interest in supplying policing has been complex mixture of self interest in encouraging dependence and loyalty amongst the local population and a genuine desire by some inside the movement to provide a service to the community.

    These conditions have sustained the informal system over the years.

    It’s only with the signing of the St Andrew’s agreement that by and large the IRA has withdrawn from the ‘non statutory crime control’ market place. The demand (well established over forty years of civil unrest) is clearly being filled by other non state actors.

  • tacapall

    Babyface lets not get into the semantics of “hard evidence” theres plenty of evidence out there that proves the RUC and PSNI have hard evidence against people who have committed serious offenses but choose not to act on it for reasons of self survival or operational advantage, people like Scappaticci, or those members of the Mount Vernon UVF who were allowed to murder at will. The reasons they allowed those people above to do what they did is exactly the same reasons why they are allowing young people in our areas do what they are doing today.

  • babyface finlayson

    I’m sure you are right about scap and the like.
    But are you saying that these young guys are prepared to risk their lives as informers rather than face getting a 6 month suspended sentence for a minor offence?
    Have you any evidence for that other than the dogs in the street?

  • tacapall, I doubt if the devolution of policing and justice has yet made much difference to society here. Prior to devolution London and Dublin civil servants played key roles in police day-to-day and policy decision making on behalf of their governments; paramilitary civic p n j was tolerated here but would have been stamped on had it shown signs of spreading elsewhere. Some of what you say about policing will be true but it doesn’t give the whole story; the police make useful scapegoats for decisions made by others, especially should things go wrong.

  • Barnshee

    “These punishment beatings and shootings are a blessing for Baggott, it keeps those dissidents occupied within their own communities harming only their own children”

    Its even worse than that– there is an ambivalent attitude to what it happens in e.g. West Belfast a ” well that`s what happens there” attitude.

  • Mick Fealty


    The informers line was the one that derailed the conversation on Nolan on Friday. Its one of things that could be a factor, but it’s unlikely to account for the 98% of crimes that beleaguer some communities.

  • tacapall

    Mick I would say its a lot higher than 2%, there are those among them that can within minutes have the PSNI near their sides whenever they feel threatened or whenever they are caught red handed by local residents or they feel paramilitaries are near. Even then they seem to be free within hours to resume their activities. In an age of technology and the advancement of forensic science it seems unbelievable that lack of evidence is the reason these young thugs are able to terrorise our communities on a daily basis, they are streewise but not master criminals and unfortunately local residents feel they have no other option other than go to those who are not as willing to turn a blind eye.

  • Mick Fealty


    Do you have any indication what proportion of the 98% of uncleared cases are due to the lack of implementation of forensic science techniques?

  • tacapall

    I wouldn’t know that Mick but Im well aware what goes on around the community I live in. People are aware of the same youths getting away with the same activities on a daily basis, they seem to be a law unto themselves, the PSNI arrest them then release them regularly and on the odd occasion they are charged with a minor offense but nothing that would warrant a custodial sentence. I suppose it depends on the public outcry, like those car jackings, when the media and politicians get involved then the PSNI have to take action or should I say have to be seen actively pursuing these young thugs but at the end of the day its just playing to the gallery. The truth is those that terrorise our communities serve a purpose for those who wish to contain, distract and divert attention within the bubble of our communities, its twofold in that it keeps those labelled as dissidents occupied dealing with the widespread anti social behaviour that is part and parcel of our bubbles but at the same time brings them out into the open they are then exposed to the PSNI and the intelligence services. Just like what happened in the St James area a year or so ago

  • Mick Fealty

    But with the best will in the world, the PSNI cannot be seen to enforce the law to paramilitary standards.

  • tacapall

    True Mick but they should be seen to be doing the job that they are paid to do and that is to protect the public and their property from maurading teenagers.

  • Mick Fealty

    perhaps this is where we invite Dec back in to conduct his 5 whys?

  • tacapall

    Yes Mick perhaps he could start with the Lower Falls, the PSNI seem unable or unwilling to protect the residents from gangs of children the latest attempt to murder a whole family should serve as a reminder of what happens when communities are left at the mercy of anti social elements.

  • babyface finlayson

    Are you suggesting that there was a murder attempt and the victims were ready to give evidence against the perpetrators, but the PSNI chose to ignore it? That would be shocking.