No prosecutions to follow Black Lives Matter protests last June

Wed, 02/06/2021 - 12:07 -- Editor

The Public Prosecution Service has decided not to prosecute 14 people for attending Black Lives Matter protests last June.

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said: "We acknowledge today's Public Prosecution Service (PPS) decision not to prosecute 14 people in connection with attendance at Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in June 2020.

"Our involvement in policing these events has recently been reviewed by the Police Ombudsman and the NI Policing Board. Although a further Ombudsman investigation is ongoing, it is already clear that our response unintentionally damaged the confidence and trust of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Community. The Chief Constable has apologised for the anger, upset and frustration caused by our policing operation, and I would like to repeat that apology today.

"It is now over a year since the murder of George Floyd and the worldwide protests that followed, but we are still conscious of the deep hurt felt by members of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Community.

"The PPS decision underlines yet again the difficulties we faced attempting to police during this period. Against the backdrop of an unprecedented health crisis and rapidly changing, ambiguous legislation, our objective has always been to help slow the spread of the virus to keep people safe. Balancing this against our obligation to safeguard other important rights - such as that to peacefully protest - has not been easy or comfortable. We have not always got that balance right.

"We are working to implement the lessons learned from this period and are reaching out to those communities with whom we have lost trust.

"We have also established a Community Relations Taskforce to help us address community concerns and are reviewing our policies and practices. This work will take time but we remain determined to improve relationships and build confidence and trust in policing among all communities in Northern Ireland.

"We will now take time to consider the implications of the decision by the PPS and will engage with the relevant stakeholders in due course".