Response to Third Report by the Independent Reporting Commission
Crime Operations Assistant Chief Constable Barbara Gray said: “The PSNI has welcomed the third report of the Independent Reporting Commission (IRC).
“We are pleased it recognises the continuing progress of the Paramilitary Crime Task Force (PCTF) and describes the impact it is having as “a welcome start” particularly in relation to the seizure of drugs, illicit tobacco products and criminal assets.
“To date, working with our partners in the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the PCTF has carried out 573 searches and made 274 arrests against those paramilitary groups assessed as not presenting a threat to National Security.
“So far, we have secured 220 disposals, meaning that people have either been charged or reported to the Public Prosecution Service. There have also been 40 successful prosecutions.
“The Task Force has recovered significant quantities of criminal property/proceeds of crime including cash, property, vehicles, illicit drugs and contraband cigarettes.
“This amounts to nearly £4.5 million of revenue loss prevented, 176 firearms and weapons taken off the streets (guns, imitation guns and offensive weapons), 46 vehicles seized and drugs with a street value around £1,658,204 seized.
“Over £2m in property has been frozen, £429,558 in cash has been restrained and suspects have had to pay back £614,343 as a result of recovery and confiscation orders.
“The report welcomes the Police Service’s increased focus on neighbourhood policing and the additional resources that have been assigned to it in order to continue delivering our ‘Policing with the Community Project’ (PWC) which creates opportunities for visibility, engagement and problem-solving in communities still affected by paramilitarism.
“We share the IRC’s view that confidence in policing, particularly in neighbourhood policing, is a critical part of the equation in terms of tackling paramilitarism as those involved in criminality will often seek to fill that vacuum.
“It is also encouraging that the IRC engaged with a number of the Neighbourhood Policing Teams across Northern Ireland, including those working in Lurgan, Portadown, Derry/Londonderry and Carrickfergus, and said they saw at first hand the difference effective neighbourhood policing makes.
“Tackling paramilitarism remains a key priority for the Police Service to help free communities from the insidious grip and control of those who are trying to exploit and harm them.
“And while we know we cannot solve this decades-old problem alone, our commitment to work with partners in law enforcement and beyond, is unwavering.”