Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20-40)



  Q20  Sammy Wilson: Can I just ask one question on the cross-border trade in waste? You did successfully break one of the rings there, but the police success was somewhat tempered by the victory that those who were involved in it had when you had to return the vehicles they were using, which were worth quite a lot of money to them, Chief Constable. What changes do you see are required in the legislation to enable you to at least hurt those who engage in those kinds of activity in their pockets?

  Sir Hugh Orde: You have given the answer in the question really. I think legislation which says that if you are caught smuggling illegal waste, much of which was actually hospital waste, dangerous waste, across borders then you lose the vehicle in which it is travelling. These are sort of £70,000 lorries and the recovery agency is getting better and better, as I have touched on, at following the money. So these gangs are intercepted and we are following millions of pounds on the back of those investigations. It is big money, but you would really hurt them if you took their means of transport away from them at the time. So if you are caught with the goods, your lorry is seized and it is sold.

  Q21  Sammy Wilson: Has representation been made by the police to the Government to have legislation introduced and have you had any response?

  Sir Hugh Orde: I cannot answer that. I do not know. I will find out for you. I am sorry, I do not know.[2]

  Q22 Gordon Banks: Before moving on to talk about the Northern Bank robbery, I am very happy, representing a Scottish constituency, Sir Hugh, that the lid was put on the waste issue, but you mentioned the land boundary that you have, which is a specific issue which other parts do not have. Other than that, is there anything specific? I think many of us here could assist in answering the question, but could you take us through some of the specific problems which you do have to encounter in tackling organised crime?

  Sir Hugh Orde: Northern Ireland struck me when I moved there as a small place and people are very well-known, and because of the history they are very reluctant to come forward and assist the police. We have huge problems trying to get people to tell us what happened. People feel intimidated. We have the Witness Protection Scheme like any other force, but people always want to come back and say that that is very problematic. So there are huge issues around normal routine methods of investigation which my chief officer colleagues will frequently be able to revert to which I cannot revert to, and you have seen intimidation in very high profile cases. If one takes the McCartney sisters, for example, not one of those sisters can now live in the Short Strand; they have all moved out. These people are victims, so it shows there is that sort of substantial grip on people. So that I would say would be a fundamental problem.

  Q23  Chairman: What do you do about that?

  Sir Hugh Orde: I think what is interesting is that on extortion, which is another thing which I have not touched on but it has been a major problem in terms of funding paramilitary activity, particularly Loyalist paramilitaries actually, we are getting progressively more cooperation from the business community, who now feel able to come forward and speak to us and where we get a complainant we get a conviction. We have a 100% conviction rate for extortion in private sector business where someone comes and speaks to us, because we can use tactics to get best evidence which gets these people convicted in court. Sometimes they would benefit from slightly longer imprisonment terms when convicted, but as a process that works very well indeed. I think the time will come when people do start to stand up and be counted and I think the murder of Robert McCartney was almost one of those cases where we saw a huge kick-back from communities saying they had had enough of this sort of behaviour.

  Q24  Chairman: But the McCartneys still left?

  Sir Hugh Orde: Exactly. It did not quite happen. I think a case may arise where it does happen and now if people want to go into witness protection we will facilitate that. We will move them, we will do what it takes to enable them to step up to the mark and give evidence, but it is a big thing to ask of people in a small community.

  Mr Leighton: One of the things we have done to try and improve the situation there, and the only thing that a Police Service can do, is to actually make sure that its performance is top-notch, and the creation of crime operations, the sharing of intelligence with detectives, the way that we are now funding and staffing major investigations actually is giving people more confidence that we are dealing with things properly. Really what a police force can do to encourage confidence in the public is to get it right and get the result.

  Sir Hugh Orde: I do think if you look at some of the major paramilitary players whom we have arrested and put into custody, what we are doing is creating conditions externally which perhaps allow people to move into a mode where they can speak to us because we have removed part of the threat. The problem there, of course, is that these organisations have long tentacles, as we well know, and have a long history. We are dealing with 30 years of history where intimidation was routine.

  Chairman: Yes, quite.

  Q25  Gordon Banks: In relation to Northern Bank and the arrests and the charges which have been made, let me try and link some issues here together. Have the arrests helped the on-going police investigation? Do you anticipate that there will be more charges against the arrested people and people who have not been arrested yet? Do you actually think that the arrests will actually have a positive impact on law and order and a negative impact on organised crime in as much that you have managed to get to the stage where very difficult crime has gone some way towards being solved? Do you think that might be something which may dissuade people from becoming involved in such events? The final point is really that no one knew that the Northern Bank robbery was going to take place, so was that a breakdown in terms of intelligence-gathering capabilities within Northern Ireland, and if it was, how do you solve that? How do you stop that and how do you prevent another incident like that happening again if someone is of a mind to do it?

  Sir Hugh Orde: In terms of the Northern Bank robbery, the first thing to remind everyone here, because it tends to get forgotten in the amount of money, is that this was a particularly brutal crime. It could have been a murder. The abduction of people and the way they were treated was utterly brutal. This was not some Robin Hood effort, this was a really brutal crime. In terms of the police arrests, yes, it shows we were determined to solve it and the most effective way of solving it is to bring people in front of the courts. Three people currently stand charged with offences relating to the Northern Bank as a result of the arrests we have made and a number of other people, I am confident, will be arrested and hopefully charged in the future. Of course, not only are we looking at our main suspect—this was a very large operation run by the Provisional IRA involving a large number of people—but we are also looking at any other opportunity to arrest the suspects, if we can, for other offences where it is appropriate. I am a great believer that if you cannot arrest someone for A, if you have got the evidence you arrest them for B and you take them out of circulation. It works. It works if you follow the money and it works if you follow other offences, and it works in Northern Ireland as well as it works in London. So hopefully we will see some more. In terms of the intelligence issue, as I said, I was involved in the Stevens investigation and we were determined to make sure the intelligence structure in Northern Ireland not only was fit for purpose but was well-organised and could stand any external test in terms of how we handle intelligence. There is a long history in Northern Ireland which has been used by many people just to discredit what is perfectly lawful, and it is always around intelligence-handling. We have a system now which I would defy anyone else in the United Kingdom to beat. In terms of our authority levels, for example, for participating informants, all those difficult issues which we have to deal with, we are seen as best practice. That is not me, that is the Surveillance Commissioner saying that. He commended our structure to make sure that we complied fully with the Regulations Investigatory Powers Act when dealing with these difficult issues in terms of registration and participation. So I am happy that this was not an intelligence failure. Any crime per se is an intelligence failure, be it here, be it in London, or be it anywhere else. If we knew about it, we could stop it. I would say that the intelligence picture in Northern Ireland is sometimes very complicated. Certainly at the time this bank robbery was going on all sorts of other things were going on. So what you see in hindsight makes a lot more sense than it does at the time. But it would be fair to say that these arrests are the result of substantial intelligence-gathering by my organisation.

  Q26  Gordon Banks: Could I just ask, obviously you see now from intelligence that you had that there were things which with hindsight would have pointed you down a road which might have taken you some way towards preventing this kind of crime happening?

  Sir Hugh Orde: No, I am not saying that. What I am saying is that some things make more sense. Whether you would ever stop something that was planned by an organisation which has got 30 years' experience of doing this sort of thing—on the notion that this was the first bank robbery committed by the IRA, let us remind ourselves that the IRA have committed bank robberies as well as murders and bombings for the last 35 years. This was not a sudden change.

  Q27  Chairman: Just the biggest?

  Sir Hugh Orde: Size does not always matter, Chairman. The principle was exactly the same, so I do not accept that we could have done it any better and I do not accept that people who were part of the problem before and who now come out of the woodwork and say, "We could have done it better," are doing anything other than making soundbites around "Old world good, new world bad," which is wrong.

  Mr Leighton: I was involved in intelligence-gathering in the RUC in the past and I would honestly say our intelligence capability now is much superior, not just in gathering it but in what we do with it when we have got it. That is not to say it was bad in the past, but everything develops and everything moves on.

  Chairman: That is greatly reassuring.

  Q28  Dr McDonnell: Just a couple of points I would like to come in on. The question of the outbreak of violence on 10 and 11 September, can you comment on that? Has policing in Loyalist areas become more difficult and what are you doing to restore confidence in those areas?

  Sir Hugh Orde: We are doing an awful lot. Yes, the Whiterock. Paul and I were both on duty. First of all, 12 July was the first serious disorder we had this year, which was the Ardoyne shop-fronts where we were enforcing a Parades Commission determination for Loyal Orders to go up the road past the Ardoyne shop-fronts and we suffered 100 officers injured as a result of serious Republican violence. On 10 September the Whiterock was the opposite side and the point, I think, is routinely that my officers are in the middle of two communities which do not like what each other is doing. So the solution is not really a police solution. We can police the determination and prevent people injuring themselves, but the reality is that this is something which the communities have to sort out with the Parades Commission so that they can tolerate each other's activities in a way which allows them all to carry on and exercise their rights to march balanced by other people's rights to protest. So it is not a police issue, but the reality of the Whiterock was very worrying. 150 live rounds it has been estimated were fired at police officers and that is unique in 35 years of history. We had one landrover there with 30 bullet marks in it. It is quite incredible. Divine providence and two Army helicopters kept people alive, to be quite honest, on that day.

  Q29  Chairman: What was the link with organised crime?

  Sir Hugh Orde: The link was with the paramilitaries rather than organised crime. This was a parade, and I am on record as placing substantial responsibility at the door of the Orange Order for the way they managed their piece of business, among other people, but the reality was that it suited Loyalist paramilitary groups to take the leash off their people to attack the police, and that is what they did with a degree of viciousness that we have not seen for many, many years. It was different. It was fundamentally different, 167 blast bombs, in essence hand grenades, over 1,000 petrol bombs. We fired 260 impact rounds. The Army fired about 240 in addition to our water cannon. We returned live fire. Five rounds were fired by police officers, three rounds were fired by soldiers. One man was hit and currently stands charged with attempted murder. We had 170 vehicles hijacked in one day. That is more than the whole year. We recovered 12 firearms and 93 officers were injured. So that is just to portray the level of violence and the scale which did play here, but only for about 24 hours. I would venture to suggest that if that had happened in Birmingham or in London you would have seen a public inquiry or two. It was substantial. In terms of reasons, I think partly it surrounds people continually telling what I have described as a disenfranchised group of people that they are coming second. There was huge anger within the Orange Order that they were not allowed to march, but it was more than that. From speaking to people from some of these communities after the event, it was very much this growing frustration that they feel they are not benefiting substantially from the peace process and are seeing others, the Republicans, as achieving more. Whether that is right or not, that was the perception of some of these communities and I think that was part of the cause, as evidenced also by the women's groups who are now blocking the streets in peaceful protests, although in fact that happens on both sides. The situation we now have, which is important as I intend to look forwards rather than backwards and because we need to fix it, is that I spoke to my community officers from the Shankill area and they are not served in the shops in the Shankill Road, unless it has changed.

  Mr Leighton: It is not uniform, but there are some shops in the Shankill Road where police officers would no longer be welcome, much as it used to be in some areas on the other side of the community. But we have never stopped having meetings with representatives from the Loyalist communities, and we have had several recently. We have given some ideas as to ways in which we can move forward and there are some positive signs that we will be able to re-engage with those communities, and we are certainly very much putting our hand out to say that we will do what we can to re-engage with communities and we are quite hopeful that we will be back into every single area on the same basis that we were fairly soon.

  Sir Hugh Orde: In terms of effort, it was a huge effort at every level. We have spoken to our district commanders and they met with the clergy and met with the elected representatives, and they are meeting with the women's groups. My ACC met with one of the women's groups for three hours the other day. We are determined to get back in there. My street officers, whom I have met, very impressive people, are getting back into those communities. They are now back to patrolling in pairs. They had to be in fours and fives before that because of the threat against them. They are just continually pushing, but it is very hard for a street officer who is used to getting on well with that community to go every day and get abused by the same people and to continue to push edges and to continue to go back. They are very, very extraordinary people and they are determined to get on and fix it.

  Q30  Dr McDonnell: Could I just very quickly ask you if you have made some assessment as to where you are at in the provo territory in terms of policing? Are you going forward?

  Sir Hugh Orde: In terms of the difficult areas, as I said at the beginning, we have officers patrolling the South Armagh in vehicles where they have never patrolled for 35 years, so we are pushing edges. We were very determined as a senior management team to empower our district commanders to make local decisions about local policing, because what works in Armagh may not work in Bangor and may not work in Belfast, and what we have seen over the last two and a half years is the vast majority of our district commanders grabbing an opportunity and working with the district police and pushing edges and getting into communities which did not historically like us that much. Paul was on patrol in Newtownbutler, sorry Newtownhamilton and I was in Crossmaglen recently. It is moving. I think the way you could convince communities you are effective is by being effective in that community, and despite the difficulties you just continue to push edges. It has worked in parts of west Belfast with some of the car crime initiatives. Car crime is down 80% over the last four years just because of working through third parties. Local officers were prepared to give their phone numbers to people, who would then ring a known officer, not the police but it is sort of the local community police. That is the way we got into these groups and these officers were prepared to go the extra mile, to come out and to fix things, to take stolen cars off the streets so that they could not be re-stolen and so that they could not kill people, which was a big issue in west Belfast and there were families bereaved by car crime. I think we just continually push edges and prove we are capable of delivering an effective policing service. I think that is how you convince people. I think communities are more sophisticated than many politicians give them credit for and I think in the case of Sinn Fein, for example, they are going to get left behind because I think their communities will engage with us before they do.

  Mr Leighton: I think it is fair to say that throughout the Troubles one of the things Northern Ireland has missed is this ability to see policing problems as more than just problems for the police but problems of society and problems which the communities have got a stake in and which businesses have got a stake in. Now we are beginning to see some of that happening and I think that is what is beginning to make people realise that there are ways to move things on which perhaps were not immediately apparent during the Troubles, and what the Chief Constable has just mentioned about officers becoming known. Behind the policing with the community is this concept of face and name, that the members of the community have a right to know the face and the name of their local community police officer. That is a difficult concept for officers in some areas of Northern Ireland because they have been under threat there for a long period of time, but we now have officers moving forward even on that concept.

  Sammy Wilson: I would like to compliment your team in south Belfast.

  Chairman: We will take the compliments as read. Thank you very much.

  Q31  Sammy Wilson: The events around 10 September were a disgrace and nobody is going to say otherwise, but to a certain extent, Chief Constable, you have pointed the finger at the Orange Order. There is another interpretation and that is that the police, through bad policing decisions in the weeks running up to 10 September, had given the impression to one paramilitary group that they would stand aside and let them carry on their feud with another paramilitary group, and we saw a whole estate taken over by the police with maybe 300 paramilitaries taking over the estate. Then when the police actually started to search houses—and we had a foretaste around Ballydown etc where the paramilitaries were somewhat taken aback that the police actually dared to intervene, and the 10 September Orange march was used as the cover for paramilitary groups to get back at the police. How much does your intelligence show that to a certain extent the 10 September was brought about by a paramilitary group which was angry at the police for what they had done?

  The Committee suspended from 6.22 pm to 6.40 pm

  Sir Hugh Orde: Mr Wilson raised a couple of issues which I think merit a response. First of all, I do not accept at all there was some deal around the feud. There was no deal and I stand on our history of the number of searches, raids, disruptions we carried out against loyalism during that feud. The deployment alone of police officers and soldiers to keep that feud under control was substantial, but the bottom line is that many raids were undertaken to recover firearms and drugs and to disrupt those whom we thought were operating in the feuds. So I do not accept that there was any deal. The Garnerville incident was regrettable in the sense that we could have done it better. We know that, but the officers did face a fundamentally different situation from the one shown on the media. It played badly, we fully accept that, and we made sure it never happened again, but that was just a knife-edge event and I do not think it is an indication of any tolerance of any sort whatsoever. In terms of the role of the Orange Order on the day, I held them to account publicly. I told the communities what I thought had happened because I do not accept that the Orange Order lost control of the march; indeed, I was in the control room when a phone call came in from a senior Orange member saying that he had lost control of the march and that the paramilitaries had taken over and I was watching on seven or eight television screens a march under total control. That is not the case. That having all been said, our primary focus now has to be how we get back into those communities, how we get the trust back in those communities and how we can move policing on because we have had many people saying to us, "We don't like what happened." They condemn the violence and they do want policing, and I thought it was just important to make those points.

  Q32  Chairman: Thank you very much indeed. What I would like to do, if I may, with your agreement, because I know the Committee would value five minutes with you privately to discuss our forthcoming inquiry, is could we just concentrate on the issue of community support officers and restorative justice? I know there is quite a lot of concern across the Committee on that. Would you like to say a word or two by way of introduction and then I will call colleagues who want to ask specific questions?

  Sir Hugh Orde: I will ask Paul to deal with the details because Paul has led on this, but there is one thing I would say. We are very strong advocates of the restorative justice programmes as understood by the rest of the United Kingdom Police Services. That is a system which keeps young people out of the courts through a proper structure and organisation which involves the police. There is no system anywhere else in the UK where the police are excluded and I will not tolerate one in Northern Ireland that I am prepared to sign up to. That is point one. Point two is that to be a player in community restorative justice you have to be a person who has a standing within that community, and I mean that in the non-criminal sense, in the sense that you should not have substantial previous convictions, you should not be associated with paramilitary groups. You should be someone who has credibility in that community because you are working to make that community a safer place. With that particular observation, I will ask Paul to touch on the others.

  Mr Leighton: The basic principle of integration for both community restorative justice and PCSOs is that they must be integrated with the criminal justice system in its entirety, and that is the only way that we could accept either. For PCSOs, integration with the Police Service as an operational concept is absolutely vital. All the studies in the UK which look at the operation of PCSOs show that where they are successful they are fully integrated with the Police Service and work very closely alongside the Police Service. Where they have been put to one side and allowed to almost develop their own role, they have not been successful. So the only way that we would accept PCSOs is totally integrated with the Police Service. The other point about PCSOs is that we could not have a different vetting standard for PCSOs in Northern Ireland than we have with police officers because if they are integrated with the Police Service our reputation would depend on them, as it would other police officers. We have made the point very clear to the Police Board and to the NIO, and we have never varied from it, that we would like to have PCSOs and that we see them as a viable way forward. They were not around when Christopher Patten wrote his report and he wrote about 2,500 part-time reserve police officers. That was in the days when part-time reservists were possibly a viable way forward. It may still be, and we are having that debate with the Police Board. One of the things we have committed to is that we will not move forward on our own. We will move forward with the Police Board and with the support of the Police Board, hopefully. We are in that debate with them at the moment and we have had conversations right up to this morning.

  Chairman: Thank you very much indeed.

  Q33  Lady Hermon: Sir Hugh, just from a technical point of view, how exactly will restorative justice schemes dovetail with ASBOs? Are ASBOs going to be the last resort after you have exhausted community restorative justice schemes, or vice versa?

  Mr Leighton: "Dovetail" is a difficult word, I suppose, because I am not sure that in every restorative justice case there would be an ASBO as a fall-back. There may be. ASBOs are not for everyone and they are not for every circumstance. They have worked in various circumstances, usually where they are fairly specific. I can recall an ASBO where we had a thief who stole ladies' handbags by riding along on his bicycle and grabbing the handbags. The ASBO which was taken out on that person prevented him from riding a bike. That was very effective. He did not steal any more ladies' handbags because that was the way that he operated.

  Q34  Chairman: What about a horse?

  Mr Leighton: There were not many horses about that area of Tyneside at the time, I have to say. ASBOs are not necessarily a panacea. We will be very keen to go down the line of—and we are working with—acceptable behaviour agreements, which are non-statutory, non-legislative agreements with parents to try and encourage better parenting, to try and encourage more control over children who are perhaps out of control. But not every case of restorative justice would lead to an ASBO. There may be cases where after restorative justice had perhaps not been successful an ASBO might be considered by a court. That is one of the reasons why restorative justice has to be integrated with the criminal justice system. If you have restorative justice which is not integrated and the offender does not comply with whatever community penalty is put on them by the restorative justice scheme, to paint this lady's fence or to clean up that yard, and the person does not turn up, what is the alternative? Where does it go? It goes back into paramilitary violence and paramilitary beatings. We cannot be involved in that or condone that in any way. The other point is that all the research which the Government has paid a lot of money for, criminological research, which says that criminal careers begin with minor offences says that people who are starting out on this career need to be diverted, but if they are not diverted, they will inevitably progress into some more serious criminal offences. DNA sampling and fingerprint sampling are, of course, vital. Why would we have a DNA database and a fingerprint database if we were not capturing people at an early stage? That is another reason why restorative justice schemes must be integrated with the criminal justice system, otherwise we will have people committing serious offences that we know nothing about.

  Q35  Mr Campbell: On the issue of restorative justice again, David Hanson indicates that within the next few weeks the Government will be consulting on the issue of regulation of restorative justice schemes. If we work on the basis that in 2006 there is going to be some form of regulation of restorative justice schemes and given the concerns that there are in the community, which I am sure you are aware of, of some particular types of restorative justice schemes, how important is it that the regulation is going to be policed in the proper sense and what do we do with schemes which are outside of regulation and get funding from charitable sources, say from the United States or elsewhere?

  Mr Leighton: Where the funding comes from is not necessarily a critical issue. The critical issue here is, as the chief has pointed out, who is involved in the schemes and how they are integrated with the criminal justice system. Obviously we will wait and see, as you will, what the final version will be and we have been involved in consultation with the NIO, but I understand that the protocols are not finalised as yet and I know that issues were raised with us at the Police Board last week, which we are going to go back into the negotiations with and to try and have some impact before anything is published. There are bits and pieces of the protocols which still need some work, in our opinion. We are not entirely satisfied that the protocols are there yet, but once we have obviously made our representations to the NIO, it is a matter for Government what legislation they produce.

  Q36  Mr Campbell: Just one question on the community support officers and the issue there about the possibility of those previously involved in paramilitary activity applying to be community support officers. What is the issue there? I am clear on the issue of people with criminal convictions. What about those for whom there have not been criminal convictions because they have not been made amenable?

  Mr Leighton: Our position has been clear all along and that is that the vetting standard should be the same as it is for police officers. The vetting standard for police officers does not just talk about criminal convictions, it talks about intelligence, and quite rightly, and vettings are carried out with a view to intelligence as well as to convictions.

  Q37  Mr Campbell: And that view has been made clear to the Government?

  Mr Leighton: Very clear.

  Q38  Stephen Pound: Sir Hugh and Mr Leighton, it is good to see you again. Can I thank you particularly for your pre-amble and the very good news about the college at Cookstown, which is something I think this Committee may well be looking at in months or years to come. That is excellent news, and thank you for the comments about the implementation of Patten. In view of the time, of which I have very little, I will confine myself, if I can, just to one question. One of the recent inquiries of this Committee was into the general issue of race hate crime and homophobic hate crime, particularly in the village area. Could you let us know, bearing in mind that you gave us what I have to say were extremely heartening and very impressive statistics at the beginning of your presentation, what the current situation is in this general area?

  Mr Leighton: Unfortunately, race crime and homophobic crime continue to rise in terms of the number of reports to us. We actually believe that is a positive in many areas because we have made great inroads into different communities and we are gaining the confidence of communities which were not there before. We have had a massive increase in migrant workers, for instance. There are upwards of 20,000 migrant workers in Northern Ireland now, who are relatively recent arrivals, and we have worked hard to try and make contact with them as they arrive to try and educate them as to our driving laws and what the police can do for them and in what way we interact with them. What we are finding is that race crimes in the village in particular are actually down. We have put some measures in there, which I will not discuss further here, and we have been working very closely with the community police officers in the area. We have appointed an inspector in south Belfast specifically to look at hate crime and she has done a tremendous job, I think, in pulling together a team, educating people and getting out there and doing some real investigative work into hate crime. So we are pleased to report the village is down, but unfortunately we are still seeing rises in hate crime across the province, and of course we have had particularly bad sectarian incidents over the summer, which are hate crime as well.

  Q39  Stephen Pound: It is an unfair question, but we were told before obviously of the prevention of the construction of the mosque at Ballymena and we were told about the attacks on the Hare Krishna temple in Belfast. Have there been any other incidents of that seriousness that you are aware of, attacks on places of worship or prospective places of worship?

  Mr Leighton: There have been graffiti attacks on chapels, paint bomb attacks and firebomb attacks on chapels. We have had attacks on Orange halls, we have had attacks on various places around the province which could be interpreted certainly as hate crime, or which would be hate crime or sectarian crime.

  Q40  Stephen Pound: Are they classified as such?

  Mr Leighton: Yes, they are.

  Chairman: I think what I would like to do is, first of all in relation to those colleagues who have not had a chance to ask proper questions, if we send you some written questions perhaps you could respond to them. I know that Meg Hillier in particular would like that. Then we can circulate those amongst the Committee and if you are willing we can publish them as an appendix when we have this session recorded. We are very, very grateful to you both. Repeated apologies for the disruptions, but you have been most understanding and kind and I hope this will be the first of a number of sessions when we are able to welcome you in public. We also welcome the chance of a brief word in private, so could I ask the members of the public to leave, please, and the Committee will go into a private session very briefly.

2   The Police Service of Northern Ireland were part of a working group set up to consider legislative changes to the Contamination and Land (NI) Order 1997.The proposed amendments which will include enhanced powers for Environment Heritage Sevice staff and the inclusion of, "police officer" into the definition of "authorised officer" are out for public consultation. The enhanced powers will include the power to stop, detain, search and seize vehicles suspected of being involved in the illegal transportation of waste. In addition the Court will have the power to order the forfeiture of any vehicle involved in such activity. These powers should be available to officers by Autumn 2006. Back

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