HC Deb 20 December 1999 vol 341 cc410-1W
Mr. McNamara

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for what reasons the RUC were unable to identify persons involved in illegal parades in 1999; and if he will make a statement. [101874]

Mr. Ingram

[holding answer 15 December 1999]: Police actions in relation to such parades are constrained by the need to minimise disruption to the wider community. In many instances such parades are short-lived affairs where police intervention to arrest participants would exacerbate the situation.

The primary aim of police is therefore to monitor such parades in order to prevent serious disorder. The secondary aim is to gather sufficient evidence to allow the identification/prosecution of participants. If sufficient notice of the parade is obtained, technical resources can be deployed to gather video and still photographic images. These efforts can however be frustrated by a number of factors such as:

  1. (1) Many illegal parades take place at night
  2. (2) Clarity of images can be affected by distance and weather conditions.
  3. (3) Participants are often strangers to the area.
  4. (4) Band uniforms are not always worn.

Furthermore, in order to be able to substantiate a prosecution, police must be in a position to prove that individuals knew the parade to be illegal. Often such parades can be over before the police can respond and for operational reasons police may be deployed at some distance from the parade.

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