17/05/2021

Watchdog Report Finds No Police Bias Over Bobby Storey Funeral

A watchdog report into the police handling of the funeral of senior republican Bobby Storey has found that the PSNI prioritised public security over enforcement of Covid-19 regulations without showing bias.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) said it understood why the PSNI took this approach, given the likelihood of tensions, and because regulations were confusing.

Around 2,000 mourners lined the streets in west Belfast last June for Bobby Storey’s funeral at a time when strict Covid-19 regulations were in place.

A review was launched after it was announced prosecutions could not be brought against 24 Sinn Fein politicians who attended the funeral.
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Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said: "The PSNI faced the complex challenge of policing a politically-sensitive funeral while also trying to interpret the confusing Covid-19 regulations.

"The service took a sensitive approach, and ultimately achieved what it set out to do – prioritising public security over compliance with the regulations.

"Due to the complex and frequently changing Covid-19 regulations, we are not confident that there was enough evidence to prove to a court that any of the attendees at Bobby Storey’s funeral had knowingly committed an offence – and we, therefore, agree with the decision not to prosecute.

"I am reassured that the PSNI showed no bias in its handling of the funeral and that the service would have taken the same approach if the funeral was held in a different community. The PSNI does however have lessons to learn from its handling of the funeral, and we have therefore made several recommendations to help it improve how it polices events in the future."

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