On the 4th August the group met with Superintendent Emma Bond, the Commander in charge of Antrim and Newtownabbey District Command Unit of the PSNI and previously the Area Commander for the Lower Falls area. Mrs Bond is responsible for all aspects of local policing and setting the District’s policing priorities along with the Policing and Community Safety Partnership.
The discussion centered around concerns of policing in our areas and the PSNIs efforts of trying to engage with working class communities. Mrs Bond outlined how they now take a more “active” role in engagement and are keen to listen to and address any issues working class communities may be experiencing.
There is a minimal amount of research that documents the perceptions of the Unionist /Loyalist communities towards the police and also their levels of engagement and participation in policing led programmes and initiatives.
It became apparent during the discussions the legacy of the conflict, recent flag protests, parades and the Supergrass system had a significant impact on how these communities viewed the police. Generally, there is an apparent mistrust and fragmentation within Loyalist communities that led to disengaging from previous working relationships with community groups and local police.
The discussions covered a wide range of issues including Drugs, Burglaries (especially those where the victims are older persons), the HET and the supergrass system.
We would like to thank Mrs Bond for addressing our group and also everyone in attendance including representatives from the PUP, ACT Program and the Community relations forum.