Almost 4,000 stop and search operations in Newry area
THEPSNI has carried out almost 4,000 'stop and search' operations in Co Down over a seven-year period, it has been claimed.
The figures were obtained by republican party Éirigí through the Freedom of Information Act.
They reveal that between January 1, 2009 and January 31, 2015, a total of 3,957 people were stopped and searched under the Terrorism Act and Justice and Security Act in the Newry and Mourne Policing Area, which covers a large part of south Down.
Between the same dates 221 premises were searched during police raids.
Concerns have been raised in the past about levels of stop and search operations in nationalist areas including Ardoyne in north Belfast and parts of north Antrim.
Stephen Murney, an Éirigí representative in Newry, claimed the figures demonstrate that the PSNI is guilty of "political policing".
"The fact that almost 4,000 stop and searches took place, along with over 220 raids on family homes and other premises, in the Newry area would suggest that the PSNI are still treating the people of Newry as a 'suspect community'.”
Last year Éirigí launched a website and mobile phone app to tell people their rights during stop and search operations.
However, Chief Inspector Joe McMinn said: “The Police Service of Northern Ireland is committed to keeping people safe and this involves using stop and search powers as part of our counter terrorism operational activity.
“It is one of a number of ways that we combat the ongoing terrorist threat, which is currently assessed as 'severe', to ensure that we are doing everything possible to keep communities safe."