PSNI accused of ‘political policing’ on Hyland campaign trail

May 5, 2014

A Newry councillor has criticized the PSNI after a number of his canvass workers were stopped and searched during an election leaflet drop.

Independent councillor, Davy Hyland, accused the police of ‘political policing’ after his supporters were held for 40 minutes on the Belfast Road in Newry while out canvassing on Wednesday evening last.  The group was travelling in four cars when they were pulled over by police around 8.10pm.

Mr Hyland says he was the only one of ten men present who was not searched or questioned by officers.  Five women in the group were also not searched.

“We were wearing high visibility jackets with ‘vote number one Hyland’ on them,” he said.  “We were carrying election literature and wanted to leaflet drop in a neighbouring estate and only had a certain amount of time.”

Mr Hyland questioned if any other political party was being treated in the same way and was told by the police officer that “he didn’t have to answer any other questions”.

PSNI area commander for Newry and Mourne, Andy Beck, defended the police actions: “I understand that the use of stop and search powers is a sensitive issue for many in the community.  However, these powers are essential in keeping the public safe and are used only when necessary to protect the community and the police officers who serve it,” he said.

He suggested Mr Hyland contact him “so that we can discuss the matter and address any complaints”.