Ards and North Down District Commander Superintendent Johnston McDowell has expressed his appreciation to the local community for their ongoing patience and support as officers continue their efforts to halt a recent spate of attacks linked to a feud between drugs gangs.
To date 11 homes across Newtownards, Bangor, Ballywalter, and Donaghadee have been subject to attack by rival factions previously linked to the UDA. These have included petrol bomb attacks, windows being smashed with hammers and bricks, and on one occasion a pipe bomb was thrown at a property while the occupants, including four children, were inside.
Superintendent McDowell said: “We have a robust policing operation in place to both investigate these attacks, and deter further instances of violence and damage to homes. We have carried out a number of targeted search operations and have arrested five men, two of whom have been charged with offences, including arson with intent to endanger life, and have appeared in court.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank our local community who have already been of great assistance to us providing information, both directly to police and via the Crimestoppers charity, this has allowed us to identify individuals involved in this violent criminality and progress our investigations. Their information has been vital and further searches and arrests will come.
“I’m aware there has been some unhelpful social media speculation which has added to community concerns. Police will continue to provide regular updates to the community through our social media feeds and through engagement with local elected representatives.”
Superintendent McDowell continued: “Along with our high visibility patrols we are working closely with our colleagues in the Paramilitary Crime Task Force who are helping ensure that the full range of policing tactics are available to counter the threat posed by these gangs”.
These attacks are completely unacceptable, incredibly reckless and place our communities at grave risk. We are intent on bringing them to a complete stop, arresting the perpetrators and placing them before the courts.
I want to urge residents of our District to remain vigilant and to report anything that gives rise to concern to us so we can take the appropriate action. Local people will continue to see an increased police presence in the coming days as we maintain pressure on these criminals and work to thwart their efforts to wreak havoc in our communities.
I would also pay tribute to the dedicated efforts of our local police officers who are working day and night to keep the people of Ards and North Down safe.
Anyone with information that could help us can do so directly by calling 101, or by using our reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/ . Alternatively information can also be provided anonymously to the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
In an emergency, call 999 immediately.