RAAD info withheld on secret service law
THE PSNI has refused to disclose its formal operations against Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) in Londonderry claiming that to do so would undoubtedly compromise both national security and undermine law enforcement and investigative processes.
The Sentinel asked if the PSNI had instituted a formal operation against RAAD; how many officers were assigned to it on a daily basis; how many man hours have been used in the operation to date; and how many arrests have been made as a result of the operation.
But the PSNI claimed absolute exemption under Section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act which allows the police to withold information if it has been supplied by the security services.
Information supplied to the PSNI by MI5, MI6, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the special forces, a range of intelligence tribunals, the National Criminal Intelligence Service, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and other security forces would all be exempt under Section 23.
The police also refused to provide the paper with information under Sections 24 of the FOI Act which safeguards national security and Section 31 which safeguards law enforcement.
Refusing to provide us with details of operations against RAAD under Section 24 the PSNI stated: “Confirmation or denial in this particular case would present a high risk in that it would reveal whether PSNI held intelligence in relation to RAAD.
“Those responsible for crime would be able to act on the information released, thereby jeopardising security as they would be able to identify whether their actions have been detected and whether links have or have not been made with previous incidents.”
The police refusal is despite a decision to provide full disclosure of its Operation Ruscio which unlike RAAD, which involves summary execution, torture and exile in Londonderry, focused on a spate of car hijackings in Belfast.
Between mid-January 2012 and March 2012 the PSNI said it deployed between 45 and 60 officers per day to Operation Ruscio, and that two-and-a-half years in man hours had been dedicated by the PSNI in the same period in order to catch Belfast’s hijackers.
The PSNI said 102 arrests had been made as of March 8, 2012, under Operation Ruscio for a range of offences.
Such was the PSNI’s dedication towards the investigation in the “Greater Belfast Area of hijacking, attempted hijacking and theft of vehicles with the keys left in them and to identify and bring to justice those involved thus reducing the harm caused to our communities by these offenders.”
The force did not apply an absolute exemption relating to information provided by the intelligence services in Ruscio’s case.
Neither did it refuse to provide information in order to safeguard national security or law enforcement.
But when the Sentinel asked if it had instituted a formal operation against RAAD it stated: “Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of the use of public funds and the accountability of the Service, there is also a strong public interest in maintaining confidence in the PSNI with regard to national security and law enforcement.
“Irrespective of whether information is or is not held, public safety and the ability to deliver effective law enforcement is also of paramount importance to the Police Service.
“Confirmation or denial of whether information is held would undoubtedly compromise both national security and undermine law enforcement and investigative processes.
“Therefore, at this moment in time, it is our opinion that for these issues the balancing test for confirming whether or not any information is held by PSNI is
“However, this should not be taken as conclusive evidence that the information you requested exists or does not exist. Notwithstanding the above, RAAD are a priority and that they are a particular focus of attention for the PSNI.”
As the PSNI rebuffed the Sentinel Justice Minister David Ford was claiming elsewhere that he didn’t know how many convictions there have been for RAAD exiles.
He was unable to say how many prosecutions and convictions have been secured over the past three years as a result of people being forced to leave their homes through the actions of RAAD.
He was asked by Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MLA Tom Elliott about convictions secured against the self-righteous Londonderry vigilante group by way of an Assembly Question.
Mr Ford answered: “The information requested is not available. Court sentencing and conviction datasets do not hold information on the circumstances in which offences were committed.”
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Weather for Londonderry
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 19 C
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