Northern Ireland's District Policing Partnerships


Despite its retention of a heavy arsenal of lethal weapons including Tasers, and a litany of repressive anti-terror legislation including Diplock Courts, Hugh Orde, current Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland often refers to the force as the ‘most democratic, accountable police service in the world’. This from the same Chief Constable who has recently unsuccessfully attempted to block the release of vital documents to the Pearse Jordon Inquest. Pearse, an unarmed IRA volunteer, was gunned down by the RUC on the Falls Road in 1992.

Meanwhile a new MI5 headquarters has been built to direct and gather intelligence in the interests of ‘national security’ meaning the interests of the rich and powerful – such is the nature of political policing under the state.

District Policing Partnerships (DPPs) were set up by the Policing Board in conjunction with local councils in early 2003 to provide “accountable and effective” policing.

Propaganda blitz

Despite a massive propaganda blitz waged by the PSNI, establishment parties and the mainstream media it seems that not everyone is buying into the spin surrounding DPPs. According to the latest major public survey conducted by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency in February, fewer than one in seven people believed DPPs were doing a good job.

These statistics are an illustration of DPPs being merely a ‘talking shop’ with no legislative authority. Rather than real ownership and empowerment, input by local residents in DPPs is limited to making ‘suggestions’ as a ‘spectator’, reinforcing our sense of dependency.

At the same time, the District Policing Commander continues to have the power to refuse to answer any questions during a public meeting on the wide scope of ‘national security’ - which basically translates into British ruling class interests. How many imperialist wars of plunder or recent curtailments of long-standing civil liberties, including internment without trial, have been justified in the interests of ‘national security’?

Anti social crime

A stronger, more militant and confident working class will be able to, and must, take on responsibility for tackling anti-social crime in its own communities as part of a wider independent movement, because the police won’t do it and are complicit due to the very nature of capitalism and the state. No amount of token reforms, ‘sexy’ makeover, and government from Dublin, Stormont or London can disguise the repressive nature of policing in working-class communities.

We should not succumb to populist quick-fix calls for ‘zero-tolerance’, or ‘more police on the streets’, providing the green light for an intensification in police brutality, and evidently failing to address the underlying root causes of crime such as poverty, despair, poor housing.

We must demonstrate through our actions and methods that only by collectively organising, and practising solidarity where we live and work as a class can we begin to tackle and remove the scourge of ‘anti-social crime’ and the real crime of capitalism.

From Workers Solidarity 106, Nov 2008

Northern Issue Southern Issue

Click on one of the thumbnails for an PDF version of the northern or southern edition of Workers Solidarity 106 which can be printed out on eight A4 pages.