Northern Ireland news

Republican party launches 'stop and search' app

Eirigi spokesman Padraic MacCoitir
Connla Young

A republican party is launching a website and mobile phone app to tell people their rights during stop and search operations.

Under the Justice and Security Act, Terrorism Act and other legislation police are allowed to stop and search members of the public.

Republicans complain that the powers are often abused and used to "harass" them.

'Stop and search' has also been controversial in Britain, including concerns that powers are used disproportionately against black and Asian people.

Eirigi spokesman Padraic MacCoitir last night said his party has launched the app and website because many members of the public do not know their legal rights when stopped by police.

He said the app will also allow details of stop and search operations to be independently recorded.

“This new resource will allow anyone with a mobile phone to immediately enter details of stop and search incidents on to a confidential database which will be administered by a solicitor.

"Many people feel that stop and searches are regularly used as form of harassment. They're frustrated, they feel very disempowered by it and this is a tool to help people to be able to deal with it in a positive way."

The spokesman claimed the PSNI use at least “30 separate combinations of various sections” of legislation to carry out stop and search operations.

Mr MacCoitir also criticised "constitutional nationalists" for allowing stop and search powers to become established.

“Perhaps, those parties have forgotten that one of the demands of the civil rights movement, from which they would both claim descent, was the repeal of the Special Powers Act - not its replacement with more repressive legislation."

A spokesman for the PSNI said: “The use of stop and search powers is a sensitive issue for many in the community. However, these powers are essential in keeping the public safe and are used only when necessary to protect the community and the police officers who serve it.

“The police service's use of stop and search has, and will continue to be scrutinised by the Policing Board's human rights adviser and the Independent Reviewer of the Justice and Security (NI) Act 2007.

“Any member of the public who has a complaint in relation to stop and search can bring it to the Police Ombudsman's office.”

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