Policing & Justice

Unaccountable, Unreformable, Unwelcome

Help inform our campaign by telling us about your experience with the PSNI here.

In the 22 years since the RUC was rebranded to the PSNI, the force has
demonstrated its continued disregard for the people of the six counties despite
what its spin and propaganda tries to say.

Only 36% of the north has confidence in the PSNI. Amongst young people only 30%
have confidence in the PSNI. This is not surprising for a force which seemingly
cannot go a month without an officer – or the force as a whole – being subject to
one scandal or another.

Some of its recent “highlights” include violating its own guidance on strip-searching
children, turning a blind eye to loyalist feuding in Newtownards, and of course the
data breach.

For the young people of the north, the PSNI’s approach is one of manipulation and
escalation. The PSNI regularly attends schools and youth groups – with guns – as
part of its attempt to normalise itself as an armed police force. Despite its
supposed commitment to the welfare of young people, the PSNI has shown how
little regard it has in practice when it is not trying to save its reputation. During
rioting we often see the inflammatory consequences of heavily armoured PSNI
officers arriving to fire potentially lethal plastic bullets at teenagers, often
exacerbating situations which are better resolved by youth and community
workers, and ultimately by addressing the root cause of the rioting in the first place.

The north of Ireland has seen plenty of “police reform”. The rebranding of the RIC
into RUC and its consolidation into a sectarian police force, or the disbanding of
the “B”-Specials in 1970, only to be replaced by the UDR (which in turn was riddled
by loyalist paramilitaries by the British government’s own admission). The PSNI is not
a reformable force, and as long as capitalism remains in Ireland there will be a
police force around to uphold it, much like their Gardaí counterparts in the south.
As such, the struggle for genuinely accountable, community-controlled justice is
part of the wider struggle for a socialist republic, where the powers of the state are
not used for the preservation of the wealth of a few but for the well-being of
working people.

In the immediate term Belfast CYM have the following basic demands and
campaign goals.

1. The banning of the use of plastic bullets and water cannons: these weapons are
disproportionately used against young people and are potentially lethal.
2. The disarming of the PSNI, a force with such little confidence should not be
armed: many people feel uneasy at the presence of armed police.
3. The deplatforming of the PSNI from schools, youth groups and community
organisations: the PSNI should not be allowed to present a one-sided and
propagandised view of itself to young people whilst it continues to over-police

Over the next number of months the Belfast branch of the CYM will be organising a
number of events and activities to highlight the role of policing in the north, and to
educate young people on their rights, and why the north is as policed the way it is,
and providing resources for those who want to support the campaign.
If you want informed about when these events will be taking place, email
[email protected]

What Can You Do?
Challenging police misconduct and abuse is not something that needs to be
outsourced to an ombudsman, or put off until there is a change in the political
system. It is something which can be done today. There are steps which everyone
can do.
1. Film the PSNI: If there is a potential case of police misconduct or abuse, film it. It is not illegal to film police officers in a public place.
2. Speak up: If you have had a negative experience with the PSNI, make it known.
3. Put pressure on your community organisations, sports clubs, or schools if they are
thinking about inviting the PSNI to speak. Make it clear that it is a force that should
not be welcome in your community.