Memorandum submitted by the Northern Ireland
This paper provides information on the incidence
of and Government response to relocation by residents of Northern
Ireland following intimidation.
The offence of intimidation is statutorily defined
in section 7 of the Consipiracy and Protection of Property Act
1875 and in section 1, of the Protection of the Person and Property
Act (Northern Ireland) 1969. The latter states that "a person
shall be guilty of an offence if he unlawfully causes, by force,
threats or menaces, or in any way whatsoever, any person
to leave any place where that other
person is for the time being resident or in occupation, or
to leave his place of employment,
to terminate the services of employment
of any person, or
to do or refrain from doing any act.
This definition is quite narrow and requires
strict criteria to be fulfilled in order for an offence to be
The Police have advised that there were 349
recorded offences of intimidation in the financial year 1997-98,
491 in 1998-99 and 469 in 1999-2000. These do not necessarily
relate to paramilitary or terrorist activity and the background
to the offence may be purely criminalfor example, a worker
being intimidated in the workplace because they would not join
a union or take part in a picket.
Incidence of relocation by residents following
Throughout the last 30 years in Northern Ireland,
relocation by residents following intimidation has been a feature
of life in areas of Northern Ireland. This has increased or decreased
depending on the security and political situation.
Figures for the last three financial years are
set out in the table below (NIHE figures). These figures relating
to cases known to NIHE and would, for example, include individuals
who may have left Northern Ireland as a result of intimidation
without seeking NIHE assistance before doing so.
During the summer of this year, feuding between rival loyalists
and paramilitary organisations in the Shankill area led to a very
significant increase in relocation of households as a result of
intimidation. Details are given below.
Northern Ireland Office responsibilities
The Northern Ireland Office is responsible for the Compensation
Agency, which deals with payments for compensation in respect
of personal injury or damage as a result of intimidation. Details
of the schemes are set out below.
The Northern Ireland Office is also responsible for the Key
Persons Protection Scheme and assists in funding a project known
as Base 2. Details of these are set out below.
Devolved administration responsibilities
Two Departments in Northern Ireland are responsible for agencies
which work directly to meet the needs of those displaced through
intimidation. The Department of Health, Social Services and Public
Safety is responsible for social services delivered by the health
trusts in Northern Ireland, while the Department of Social Development
is responsible for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and
the Social Security Agency. Details of the responses of these
agencies are set out below.
Government response: general
In addition to action by the security forces and attempts
to bring to justice those responsible for intimidation, a number
of agencies operate schemes specifically intended to assist those
forced to leave their homes.
Responsibility for dealing with the needs of those displaced
from their homes as a result of intimidation is shared between
the NIO and the devolved administration. Each agency or Department
responds to the needs of those displaced in accordance with its
statutory responsiblitiesfor example the Northern Ireland
Housing Executive attempts to rehouse those made homeless by intimidation,
social services staff deal with consequential family and other
problems, the Compensation Agency considers claims for loss as
a result of injury or damage.
Loyalist feud response
The security forces responded to the loyalist feud by providing
an increased level of patrolling to deter intimidation. This was
welcomed by political representatives on both sides of the loyalist
dispute, and acknowledged by them as essential to enable discussions
to resolve the dispute to begin. Discussions have taken place
between the leaderships of the two paramilitary organisations
concerned, and there are signs that the dispute may shortly be
The Secretary of State visited the Shankill area on 25 October
to meet displaced residents to hear their concerns. A number of
these related to matters for which the devolved administration
is responsible, and these were relayed to the Northern Ireland
Ministers concerned, Bairbre de Brun and Maurice Morrow.
Since July 2000, 253 households have sought help from the
NIHE in the Shankill area. Since 30 October 43 households in the
Tigers Bay/Mount Vernon have presented to the Housing Executive
as homeless and are seeking permanent accommodation. From 3 November,
seven households within the Newtonabbey area have asked for assistance.
Over the same period the Social Security Agency has received 237
applications for social fund assistance as a consequence of the
feud, and made 178 payments totalling £68,281.
Most of those seeking help were Northern Ireland Housing
Executive tenants, all of whom have asked for permanent re-housing,
although many were able to find their own temporary accommodation.
However 12 owner-occupiers (one later withdrawn) have also claimed
that they have been intimidated, and asked the Housing Executive
to invoke the Scheme for Purchase of Evacuated Dwellings (SPED)
scheme. This scheme allows the Housing Executive to buy such houses
at market value, provided the RUC Chief Constable issues a certificate
confirming the intimidation. The houses bought by the Housing
Executive will eventually be re-sold.
During the period July-November 2000, the Agency saw 74 claims
in respect of private dwellings and 13 claims in respect of commercial
premises following damage which it is claimed was a result of
the Loyalist feud. The Agency has appointed loss adjusters to
deal with all of these cases. A number of reports have been received
in respect of 44 of the private dwellings and in respect of seven
of the commercial claims. All of these are currently being processed.
The Agency is in contact with applicants' solicitors in the other
cases and has also provided advice and assistance to community
workers in the Shankill area in order to assist applicants in
preparing their applications.
A person intimidated out of their home by paramilitary action
may, depending on individual circumstances, be eligible to claim
compensation under one or both statutory compensation schemes
being administered, on behalf of the Secretary of State, by the
the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme provides
compensation for pain, suffering, financial loss and loss of amenity
by the victims of violent crime, including terrorist crime, in
Northern Ireland. The governing legislation is the Criminal Injuries
(Compensation) (Northern Ireland) Order 1998; and
the Criminal Damage Compensation Scheme provides
compensation for malicious damage to property in Northern Ireland
caused by terrorism or unlawful assemblies of three or more people,
and for malicious damage to agricultural property. The governing
legislation is the Criminal Damage (Compensation) (Northern Ireland)
Claims under the Criminal Injuries Scheme
The criminal injury legislation makes provision for the award
of compensation to eligible applicants and provides a right of
appeal to the Court against the decision of the Agency. Most applicants
are assisted by their solicitor for whom reasonable costs and
expenses are paid by the Agency in a successful claim.
For a claim to succeed, the applicant must have suffered
a criminal injury directly attributable to a violent offenceinjury
includes any impairment of a person's physical or mental condition.
Medical reports are provided to the Agency and, if required, additional
reports are commissioned in order to establish the degree of injury
suffered and determine the quantum of the award.
In physical injury cases, if the amount of compensation payable
is less than £1,000 no compensation is payble. In non-physical
injury cases the injury must:
amount to a serious and disabling mental disorder;
be sustained by virtue of being present when the
act was committed; and
the amount of compensation payable must be at
least £2,500 otherwise compensation is not payable.
Whilst each claim for compensation is assessed on its own
merits, past experience and case law would indicate that claims
by applicants who have a non-physical injury as a result of intimidation
rarely meet all three of the eligibility criteria set out above.
The legislation precludes the payment of compensation to
a person convicted of a terrorist offence at any time. Claims
may also be denied due to the applicant's failure to, for example,
comply with the requirement to report the incident to the police
within specified time limits or to assist the police in their
inquiries. The legislation requires that all the relevant circumstances
of the case are taken into account in assessing the amount of
compensation payable. Thus, provocative or negligent behaviour
by the applicant, or criminal convictions which are indicative
of the applicant's character and way of life, may result in a
reduction in the amount of compensation awardedin extreme
cases the compensation award may be extinguished.
Claims under the Criminal Damage Scheme
The criminal damage legislation provides a right to claim
compensation for loss suffered as a result of malicious or wanton
damage to agricutural property and, in the case of other property,
as a result of damage caused by an unlawful assembly of three
or more persons or by terrorist acts.
For compensation to be paid under the scheme, there must
be physical damage to property. Anyone who has an interest in
the property which has been damaged and who suffers a loss of
more than £200 because of that damage may apply for compensation.
In the case of a damaged home, the applicant may be the owner
or landlord, but could also be the tenant if responsible for carrying
out repairs under the terms of the lease. The legislation provides
for the right of appeal to the County Court against the decision
of the Agency.
Compensation may be paid for the cost of repairs or re-instatement
or reduction in market value of property; damage to stock, contents
and fixtures and fittings; consequential loss (eg loss of profits,
rental of alternative accommodation); and damage to vehicles.
Compensation is not paid in respect of any damage to, destruction
or theft of coins, bank notes, foreign currency, postal orders,
money orders or postage stamps; any articles of personal adornment,
including watches and jewellery unless kept by the owner as part
of stock in trade; or property taken from a damaged vehicle or
building except in certain circumstances, eg if the property was
stolen from a damaged building in the course of a riot.
Where domestic property and contents are covered by insurance,
the person should make a claim on the relevant insurance company
as well as the Compensation Agency. Normally the insurance company
makes payment to the person based on the insurance cover provided
and the compensation awards paid to the insurers by assignment.
All participants must ensure that a "Notice of Intention
to Claim Compensation" form is completed and sent to the
Compensation Agency, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and any
other interested parties within 10 days of the incident, and subsequently
submit an application form to the Compensation Agency within four
months of serving the Notice of Intention.
Where there is alleged terrorist involvement in the incident,
the applicant may apply to the RUC for the issue of a Chief Constable's
Certificate (CCC) to certify same. Where a CCC is issued, the
underlying liability of the Secretary of State to pay compensation
is accepted by the Agency. Where a CCC is refused, the applicant
must prove that the loss was as a result of damage caused by an
unlawful assembly of three or more persons.
In determining whether compensation will be paid and, if
so, what amount, the Secretary of State will, for example, take
into account any failure by the applicant to take all reasonable
precautions to reduce or avoid the loss; and any provocative or
negligent behaviour which contributed directly or indirectly to
the loss or which increased the chances of it being sustained.
Where liability has been accepted, other considerations may
result in the claim being denied, for example:
where the loss can be recovered under other statutory
provision or common law;
where the applicant planned, assisted in or actively
and willingly facilitated the act which resulted in the damage
(or looting); and
where the applicant was at any time a member of
an illegal association or was engaged in the commission, preparation
or instigation of acts of terrorism.
The Compensation Agency is not involved in issues relating
to the housing re-housing of persons intimidated from their homeshousing
being devolved to the Assembly with responsibility resting with
the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE). The NIHE operates
SPED (Scheme for Purchase of Evactuated Dwellings) under which
the NIHE may purchase, at market value, the home of an owner occupier
who has been intimidated from their home. The Agency advises applicants
of this scheme when appropriate.
The Key Persons Protection Scheme provides physical protection
measures, at public expense, at the homes (and occasionally the
workplace) of certain categories of individuals, where the Secretary
of State receives advice from the Chief Constable that there is
a serious or significant threat against the individual concerned.
The scheme is non-statutory, and is designed to protect from attack
individuals in certain categories of jobs or occupations (including
for example elected public representatives, members of the judiciary
and police officers) whose death or injury could damage or seriously
(a) the democratic framework of Government in Northern
(b) the effective administration of Government and/or
the criminal justice system; or
(c) the maintenance of law and order.
These arrangements cannot therefore protect everyone who
is considered to be under some degree of threat nor is this their
purpose. A judgement has to be made about the candidacy of any
person applying to the Scheme, taking into account the Scheme's
purpose, the level of threat (if any) against the person, and
their individual circumstances. In this latter context, the person's
job or occupation will be an important factor. In addition, there
must be security advice from the Chief Constable that, in his
professional judgement, the person concerned is under serious
or significant threat.
In making the assessment of the threat, the Chief Constable
will take into account all relevant information and intelligence
at his disposal, including whether the person has been or continues
to be subject to paramilitary intimidation or violence.
Once admitted to the Scheme, NIO officials will arrange for
a range of protective measures to be installed at the person's
home. Should the individual subsequently move house, for whatever
reason, a fresh assessment of threat will be obtained covering
the new address, and measures will be installed there also if
the threat warrants it.
The NIO currently provides funding to the Base 2 Project.
Base 2 provide a crisis intervention service for individuals and
families placed under paramilitary threat in Northern Ireland.
They have been awarded a grant of £50,750 from the Core Funding
for Victims/Survivors Groups Grants Scheme, which is administered
by the Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust on behalf of the Victims
DHSSPS AND DSD
An inter-agency group called the Displaced Families Inter-Agency
Group was initially set up in 1997, in response to the intimidation
that occurred in North Belfast at that time. The purpose of the
group was to co-ordinate the response from the statutory agencies
to the events unfolding then. It is chaired by the North and West
Belfast Health and Social Services Trust and is made up of a variety
of local community groups and statutory bodies. In September this
year the group, which now meets fortnightly, extended its remit
to include the greater Shankill area and is focusing on:
(i) the speed at which compensation claims are deciced
by the NIO;
(ii) the wider implications for small businesses;
(iii) those suffering emotional distress;
(iv) impact on school children; and
(v) the support and encouragement of self-help and community
The Housing Executive has responsibility for re-housing those
made homeless by intimidation.
The ASH (Acquisition of Satisfactory Houses) Scheme allows
the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to purchase private sector
property to help meet urgent housing need. The scheme has been
used in the past to re-house victims of intimidation. In order
to speed up the purchase process, the Department of Environment
has, for the time being, waived a requirement for departmental
approval in certain situations.
The SPED (Scheme for Purchase of Evacuated Dwellings) Scheme
allows the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to purchase, at
market value, the homes of owner occupiers who have been intimidated
from their homes.
The Housing Executive has made a bid for £2 million
additional funds to cover the cost of refurbishment of houses
damaged during the period of the current loyalist feud, and acquisitions
under the ASH scheme. The Department of Environment has included
this in its bid to the Department of Finance and Personnel.
Social Security Agency
The Social Security Agency for Northern Ireland has also
been working closely with public and elected representatives and
other service providers to provide a comprehensive and cohesive
service to families who have been displaced through intimidation.
The objective of this activity is to ensure that all those affected
are treated in a fair and consistent manner.
In particular, the Agency works closely with the Northern
Ireland Housing Executive, which is best placed to confirm that
intimidation has taken place. Such status is normally sufficient
to enable Social Fund decision makers to make an award of a non-refundable
community care grant to help meet immediate need where the basic
qualifying conditions are satisfied (ie the applicant is in receipt
of Income Support or Income Based Jobseekers Allowance).
Since July 2000, the Agency has received 237 Social Fund
applications from families displaced through intimidation in the
Shankill area of West Belfast. Of these:
178 non-refundable awards (totalling £68,281)
have been made;
individual awards have ranged in value from £100
to over £2,000;
59 applications were unsuccessful for a variety
of reasons including.
legislative qualifying conditions not being
intimidation not confirmed;
alternative household items available; or
repeat applications made.
A review mechanism is available for unsuccessful applicants
including recourse to the Office of the Social Fund Commissioner,
which is independent of the Agency.
21 November 2000