28/03/2003

Trimble slams government over policing proposals

UUP leader David Trimble has criticised the government over its plans to introduce changes to policing legislation, which is set to complete its passage through the House of Commons.

The new clauses include provisions to remove the disqualification of convicted criminals from District Policing Partnerships (DPPs) and to increase the role of the four sub-groups of the Belfast DPP.

Speaking at the House of Commons, Mr Trimble said that the proposed additions ran counter to the Patten recommendations on policing. The UUP leader said that an increase in the role of Belfast sub-groups would "effectively Balkanise the city" – and further divide the communities.

He said: "If we want a partnership-based approach in Belfast, there should be a single DPP for the city. It should not be split into four groups. We have mainly discussed west Belfast with regard to Balkanisation but the same problem will arise in east Belfast, where the demography is overwhelmingly Protestant and Unionist.

"In a way, west Belfast and east Belfast are mirror images. There should be no Balkanisation of the city. The government should be ashamed of themselves.

"They have introduced the new clause purely on Sinn Fein's insistence, because that party wants to dominate the sub-group in west Belfast and thereby control policing in the area."

The Upper Bann MP said that the motivation behind the changes was to "make it easier for some members of the republican movement to join District Policing Partnerships".

Mr Trimble added: "I am not a great fan of Patten… but the Secretary of State, the SDLP, and the republican movement collectively are wrong, because they are departing from Patten in a quite pernicious way."

(GMcG)

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