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Shock scene as officers leave street to maniacs

Captured on film: Hoods ram cops

By Francesca Ryan

This is the moment three police officers were injured when their vehicle was rammed by hoods in Albert Street at the weekend.

On Sunday night, large crowds gathered to watch a stolen Nissan Micra career up and down the residential street. Several videos of the entire incident have been posted on YouTube. The footage shows the car racing  back and forth in front of a  crowd of youths until a PSNI Land Rover comes on the scene.  After a few minutes, the police vehicle is targeted by the crazed criminals at the wheel of the Micra who ram the Land Rover, which then speeds out of the area.

Later, as the car continues to cause havoc in the same street, two more police Land Rovers arrive, yet the suspects are able to escape and no arrests are made. The failure of police to intervene decisively – particularly after such a serious and violent incident – has caused concern locally.

The area’s community representatives are calling for both an explanation and action to deal with spiralling crime in the district.

“Over the past number of weeks, myself and other community members have been speaking to a number of people, including the PSNI, about the problems in Albert Street in particular and the serious difficulties facing residents,” said Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann.

“I’m surprised a PSNI Land Rover observed this car, observed its behaviour and then still left the scene. The PSNI need to supply answers to genuine questions about their actions. Residents told me about this and they were as shocked as I was.  By these actions, the PSNI are sending out all the wrong messages to residents of this area.

“I will be seeking a meeting with senior PSNI and asking them to justify how this can take place. It’s not as if they don’t know who is in involved and what residents are going through. For those of us who are trying to encourage residents to respond to policing in terms of information, this type of incident just sets everything back.”

Karol McKee of the Falls Residents’ Association said the video is “concerning”.

“The residents are obviously concerned at the troubles the residents of Albert Street have been facing this past few weeks,” he said.

“There has been a large increase in anti-community activity and death-driving as well as cars broken into in the area. The Residents’ Association has attended meetings with the PSNI and voiced concern about this upsurge in activity and this video itself is very concerning.  We have seen it and are concerned that young people would put themselves in such danger, particularly the watching crowd. We have asked the PSNI to deal with anti-community behaviour as best they can to give residents a bit of peace.

“While we strongly feel this is a policing issue, it’s a multi-agency issue and everyone needs to step up to the mark.  There are kids in this video aged 10, it’s not just an issue for the police.”

A PSNI spokesman told the Andersonstown News last night: “At approximately 8.40pm, police received a report that this car was being driven erratically in the area of Albert Street,” he said.  “The car was driven at a police vehicle, causing damage to the offside of the vehicle and its steering.  Three police officers are currently off from work with injuries resulting from the incident, none of which are believed to be life-threatening.

“Police attended the scene and the red Nissan Micra was recovered. Investigations are still ongoing.”

The spokesman added that the PSNI are committed to tackling car crime in the lower Falls area.

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