Detectives investigating five paramilitary style attacks in the Coleraine and Ballymoney areas between February and April of this year (2020) carried out a search in the Coleraine area today, Wednesday, 27 May.
A 23 year old man was arrested under the Terrorism Act. He has been released unconditionally.
District Commander Superintendent Jeremy Lindsay said: “We will investigate all aspects of criminality being carried out by anyone purporting to be operating under the convenient flag of a paramilitary organisation. Paramilitaries are not defenders of their communities, instead they are criminals who prey on vulnerable people and exploit any circumstances they can for their own gain.
“Let me be clear, these attacks need to stop immediately. It is wrong on so many levels and particularly during the Coronavirus pandemic when people are adjusting to a different way of life. Attacks such as these create fear within communities who are already trying to cope with the pressures of the pandemic.
“These attacks are not only placing the victims at risk, but also the local community. When a shot is fired there is no control over where it goes, it could strike anyone, even a child who could be playing in the street. People should feel safe in their own homes, no-one has the right to take that away from anyone.
“Those who continue to carry out paramilitary style attacks should also think very hard about the impact on frontline health service workers who are already working tirelessly to save people’s lives. Paramedics, nurses, doctors and all other NHS and care workers need to be allowed to focus all their efforts on treating and saving people with Covid-19 and other unavoidable injuries and health conditions. To add any more stress to their already stretched resource is not only selfish but taking a reckless risk with people’s lives.
“Individuals involved in this type of violence should be ashamed of themselves. Their actions are a strong symbol of the contempt they feel for their own communities and a powerful indicator that they do not care about protecting communities but only about exploiting them and securing power and grip for gangs and gangsters.
“Officers from Police Service NI will continue to disrupt the criminal activity of organised criminals who badge themselves as paramilitaries.
“I would encourage anyone with information about any paramilitary organised crime to get in touch with police on 101.
“Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”
For guidance: People arrested under The Terrorism Act must either be charged, released unconditionally or reported to the PPS – bail is not permitted under this legislation. Interviews under arrest are a key part of all investigative strategies and the police service is committed to following all lines of enquiry to keep our communities safe from those who would seek to cause serious harm.