Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

PSNI officer’s actions branded ‘unprofessional and deeply questionable’

SDLP Armagh councillor Thomas O’Hanlon says he is seeking an urgent meeting with the PSNI’s District Commander regarding an incident near Keady on Thursday evening, in which he described the behaviour of a police officer as “arrogant, rude and unprofessional”.

Outlining the incident, Mr O’Hanlon explained: “I was contacted by a young man and his family who was stopped by the PSNI in the Derrynoose area on his way home from work.  He was subjected to an interrogation on the roadside, and police made him get out of his vehicle before searching it. They checked the car for tax, insurance and HMRC even dipped the tank to ensure his vehicle was roadworthy, and everything was fine.  However the police proceeded to search the vehicle and removed a penknife, they seized it and referred him to the Public Prosecution Service.”

Councillor O’Hanlon says the young man is a farmer and uses the penknife to open bales of hay and silage.

Having subsequently attended the scene of the checkpoint to discuss the issue with police, the councillor roundly criticized the actions of one officer who, he says, was arrogant, rude and unprofessional in his response.

“I am referring the case to the Police Ombudsman and want a meeting with the area’s most senior officer as a matter of urgency,” he said.

“The police have a job to do, and when they do a good job I am the first to commend them for their actions.  However when they get it wrong, they must learn from their errors.  Young people need to be able to trust and respect the PSNI, however when they are treated like this, searched for no reason and humiliated by the PSNI, trust and respect are far from their minds.

“Over recent years the PSNI have put a lot of effort into building trust and relationships in the wider Keady community and the behaviour of one officer this evening has set back that work almost a decade.  Until this is resolved, my confidence in the police and that of the local community is at an all time low,” he added.