‘Progress’ on Quinn attacks says Police Chief

Published: 1 Jun 2014 15:000 comments

FIRE bomb attacks. Death threats. Vandalism. Destruction. Three years on and over 70 incidents later and still not one conviction for any of the attacks on the former Quinn Group, now known as Aventas.

Chief Superendent Kevin Dunwoody.

But the new F District Commander insists that progress is being made on linking the attacks together.

Speaking to the Impartial Reporter this week, Chief Superintendent, Kevin Dunwoody has rejected claims that Aventas headquarters is a no-go area for police and insists that work is “being done in the background” to tie a lot of the incidents together.

“It’s not that it’s a no-go area, it’s about the nature of a lot of the crimes happening there,” he said, “We are trying to work out what the links are and we are making a bit of progress on that. It is something we are continually keeping under review and we have actually got a detective inspector as a Senior Investigating Officer overseeing this work.”

He has only been in the new post since April 1, but Chief Superintendent Dunwoody has had to settle into the role quickly.

Just a fortnight after he assumed the district’s top policing role, he had a security alert in Fintona to contend with.

Two men were arrested after officers discovered fertiliser in the van they were travelling in.

A full scale security alert ensued with a number of homes having to be evacuated.

The men aged 33 and 45 were later charged with theft and going equipped for theft.

Chief Superintendent Dunwoody, however, has defended the full scale operation.

“We deploy resources based on an assessment of threat of risk and harm. Officers found a van full of fertiliser.

“Fertiliser has been used on many occasions for making up explosives so until we know it’s not a bomb we have to assume that it could be.

“Our primary aim in police is protection of life and that is what kicked in there to make sure that the public and police were safe.

“In this job you have got to call it as you see it. It was the right decision to take and, knowing what we do now, we would have done the same again.

“You have to remember we live in Northern Ireland -- that is part of the environment here -- you can’t take risks with people’s lives.”

Born and raised in Belfast, he has been a police officer in Northern Ireland for 18 years after giving up a successful career in engineering.

“I loved engineering but I always wanted to be a police officer, and I finally got a chance to do it when the height restriction was changed,” he explained.

In less than 20 years the father of two has risen up the ranks to that of Chief Superintendent, boasting a CV with experience in Serious Organised Crime, Training, Serious Crime, Public Order and Tactical Fire Arms to name but a few.

“I think I have been very lucky,” he says humbly, “My career has provided lots of opportunities and each job has pushed me and challenged me. So when I have gone into each selection assessment I have had a good story to tell.

“A lot of people stay in the one job for a long time, but I had the chance to do a lot of different things in a shorter period of time. It meant people trusted you to take on different things and give you that opportunity too.”

With his background in engineering the District Commander had the opportunity to travel the world and can hold a conversation in French, German, Irish, Russian Arabic and Greek.

“But if you go out for dinner with me in any of these countries just double check what I have ordered!” he jokes.

He says communication between his officers and the communities they serve will play a bigger role than ever with the revised policing teams and financial constraints ahead.

“We are facing reducing budgets,” he acknowledged. “In the next spending round we are going to have budget cuts in real terms and in terms of inflation. Concern isn’t the right word but it’s a challenge that we are going to have to deal with.

“Merging the neighbourhood and response teams in North Fermanagh and Lisnaskea has been a help,” he insisted, “The mix of response and neighbourhood has worked quite well for us and it reflects changes taking place in other parts of the PSNI.

“If I go down to any area I want the officers to be able to tell me what’s going on in that community, even down to funerals, weddings - those are big focal points in any rural area and a community police officer should know all about them.

“It is all about knowing your community -- knowing the personalities and the problems -- that is a critical way of building the relationship between police and communities.”

He sights agricultural theft as one of the main issues he plans to tackle in Fermanagh.

“Agriculture and tourism are two big aspects of this area,” he acknowledged, “The number of people killed of injured on the roads is also a big issue for me along with night time economy.

“I want to make sure that the towns are safe for people coming in at night.”

And although he says drugs are not “a huge problem” in Fermanagh, he adds that “drugs by their very nature are a problem”.

Not committing to how long he plans to stay at the helm of policing in F District, the Commander is keen to point out that he chose the post himself.

“It surprised quite a few people, but I was offered a few areas and I snapped this one up. I was down here last year for the G8 in a couple of roles. I remember last year thinking Fermanagh would be a brilliant place to work. I never thought I would be down here working a year on.

“I love travelling down here to work. To be honest, once you clear Belfast it is a straight road down. You get your whole day planned out and what you need to do and when you head home you can parcel up your day and be chilled and relaxed by the time you get home.”

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