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Stonehill College

Publication Date

Spring 2010

Program Name

Ireland: Transformation of Social and Political Conflict

Abstract

This report is a culmination of three weeks of intensive primary research on community policing methods suggested in the Patten Report and the perspectives concerning police and policing in west Belfast held by Police officers as well as members of the community. My research question was; is the PSNI policing with the community as the Patten Report suggested in 1999? I set out to find if the active partnerships between the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the community were actually being realized. Data was collected through interviews with both the Police Service of Northern Ireland officers from the Woodbourne Station in west Belfast, and also community representatives and activists who work and live within Woodbourne’s jurisdiction. The community representatives spoke for The Falls Community Council/West Belfast Community Safety Forum, Community Restorative Justice Ireland, Suffolk Lenadoon Interface Group, Lenadoon Community Council, and Eirigi. An understanding of the culture of west Belfast through informal observation, was also used by exploring the area and collecting data in informal settings such as pubs, shops, taxis, and even as simply as walking through the area to gauge the PSNI’s presence. Informal interviews and discussions were also conducted with Professors from Queens University Belfast and University of Ulster Jordanstown.

The findings of this research show that the historical background of the largely Republican area of west Belfast creates issues of trust, respect, and disconnect between the community and those who police it. The Police Service of Northern Ireland feels unwanted and therefore is sometimes unwilling to extend their hand, and the community has found it hard to reconcile their past history with the former Royal Ulster Constabulary, and the hurt that was caused to their community. There are also those issues still alive today such as parades, stop and search, and composition of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, that are present and living in the minds of both the community and police officers, making it difficult for either side to engage. The findings show that there are bridges being built between the State and the community, but there is vast room for improvement.

It became apparent during the research that perceptions within both the PSNI as well as the Republican community in west Belfast are extremely diverse and dynamic. Therefore, this report attempts to portray the perceptions of each organization and individual, as to illustrate this dynamic conflict.

Disciplines

Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance

 

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