§ Mr. Wm. Ross
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many incidents of patrols or road checkpoints operated by the Irish Republican Army have been recorded in Northern Ireland during each of the last two years; where the incidents occurred; what action was taken; and how many persons were charged as a result.
§ Mr. Humphrey Atkins
[pursuant to his reply, 19 November 1979, c. 79]: Unauthorised patrols or vehicle check points were recorded in 1978 in Londonderry and west of Dungannon—one each; and in 1979 in Maghera, Magherafelt, Carrickmore, and south of Newry—one each, Ardoyne, Belfast—two; and the Crossmaglen area, four.
It is not usually possible to establish responsibility since, in most cases, reports are received some time after the alleged incident. Appropriate action is taken where reports of unauthorised patrols or 338W vehicle check points are substantiated, and evidence leading to the laying of charges can be obtained.
These activities might give rise to charges for a variety of offences, but the mounting of an unauthorised check point or patrol is not offence in itself. It would expend an unjustifiable amount of police time to search through all the records of charges to establish how many persons were charged.