ALLIANCE Assembly member Seamus Close has said that a new report commissioned by the Policing Board backs his view that rioters are being treated far too leniently by courts in Northern Ireland.
The research by Dr Neil Jarman into public disorder was published in the NIO’s latest report on the replacement of plastic bullets.
Mr Close said: “It is unacceptable that rioting is not taken as seriously in Northern Ireland as it is in somewhere like Bradford. Those responsible for rioting are a danger to the public, yet they may not be prosecuted for many months and often get nothing more than a token punishment.
“Such an attitude raises serious questions about the state’s commitment to punish offenders in Northern Ireland and protect its citizens. Quite what some judges think they are achieving by releasing rioters back onto the streets is impossible to know.
“It just adds to the perception that violence in Northern Ireland is ignored or that the authorities are prepared to turn a blind eye which runs totally contrary to the new beginning, as promised six years ago.”