The Reality of Stop and Searches
A recent study by two academics presents harrowing statistics of what many Irish Republicans who challenge the status quo face on a daily basis throughout the six counties. In 11 years from 2005 to 2016 the rate of stops and searches increased by 74% in the six counties, while in England and Wales within the same time period the stop and search rate decreased by 75%. Republican Network for Unity asks “Does this not demonstrate an abuse of power? We contend that it does. To further quantify this abuse, only 7% of all stop and searches lead to arrests with comparable stats in England and Wales reaching 17%
Admittedly a PSNI spokesperson said that the arrests are not the primary purpose of stops and searches but rather it is to confirm the suspicions of officers without using arrest powers. This clearly identifies that they cannot justify an arrest but instead decide to harass Irish Republicans they only suspect maybe about to commit an offence against their laws. Republican Network for Unity asks how and in what manner is suspicion determined. Is it behaviour? Is it appearance? What exactly is it? There is another word for the style of policing and it is called profiling otherwise commonly known as political policing.
The two areas affected most by political policing outside of Belfast were Derry and Armagh. Armagh has a population; of which 44.39% of people holds an Irish identity while a further 26.95% hold that they have a Northern Irish identity. Although a symptom of the partitionist mentality almost 27% of the people selected Northern Irish over British. In Armagh there was 3480 stop and searches and when we take into consideration the number of documented accounts by Republicans, it is a fair assessment to say that in Armagh Republicans are disproportionately affected by this British tactic.
The Derry and Strabane statistics are considerably more with 3754 stop and searches. These areas are predominantly nationalists with only small pockets of a unionist population within them. Collective evidence that has been compiled republican and community representatives particularly from 2016-2018 clearly identifies political policing and the use of the monopoly of violence against Irish Republicans.
Republican Network for Unity highlight that PSNI saturation in nationalist communities is undeniable however the crime rate ironically remains high. We highlight that instead of crime prevention their efforts are put into stop and searches and the daily harassment of those who do not conform to their idea of a society, which is clearly unjust while Britain remains in Ireland.
On the back of this research the head of the PSNI Simon Byrne said that he would not be calling for an end to stop and searches. Byrne said that the PSNI use them to deter crime, however as we have already identified this is simply untrue and the statistics obviously speaks for themselves. In the same article evidence of political policing directed from the top of the force is on display again with Byrne threatening to remove children from their parents if they are involved in violent paramilitary activity. We condemn these statements and call on Byrne to clarify his position on this. We know exactly what Byrne and others are attempting to do, firstly it is to stigmatize anyone who challenges this status quo and denounce the Stormont government that has crippled working class communities for the last two decades secondly he is attempting to use bias and untested intelligence to subject harm on Irish families were the mere suspicion of engaging in violence will be enough to rip families apart.
To this we state categorically we will resist and we will not stand idly by while you attempt to silence us by any means possible.