Paramilitary-style attacks convictions "virtually impossible" without victim support

ACC Stephen Martin
Image caption ACC Stephen Martin said paramilitary attacks were a very difficult crime to resolve

One of Northern Ireland's most senior police officers has said that without victims coming forward it is "virtually impossible" to convict those behind paramilitary-style attacks.

On Monday a man was beaten with metal bars and a wheelie bin set alight in an attack at a house in the Creggan area of Londonderry. Police have also linked Loyalist paramilitaries to a series of attacks in Coleraine and north Antrim.

ACC Stephen Martin told BBC Radio Foyle that community support is key to getting successful convictions.

"Often the person who is the victim and indeed witnesses won't cooperate with us."

"We understand the reasons, people are frightened, people feel intimidated, but without that cooperation of the victim it makes a prosecution virtually impossible," he said.

"If people come forward and tell us what they know we have shown ourselves very capable in a whole range of crimes of putting people before the court and securing a conviction but this is a difficult issue."

'Turn families on families'

Responding to questions about a paramilitary-style attack in Derry, Mr Martin said the attack was nothing new to Northern Ireland.

"This was being done during 40 years of troubles and it doesn't work, it never worked all it does is brutalise people. Inflict injuries and turn families on families," he said.

"I don't think they're capable of acting with impunity but unfortunately they are able to carry these crimes much more frequently than any of us would wish.

"I would say to people that if they have concerns about any issues in the community there is only one place to turn to and that's the police."