North Belfast UPRG’s position on criminality is informed by and adheres to the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) Remembrance Day statement 2007; with action 4 of this statement issuing a general order to all members not to be involved in crime or criminality. 

"It is the duty of every member to understand that to be involved in crime or criminality is to undermine the cause…those who have joined our ranks for crime or self-gain…must be rooted out and never be allowed to breath in our ranks. These people are not Loyalists they are criminals. There is no place in the organisation for such people”

This unambiguous policy stance by the UDA leadership ensures that those members who have been found to engage in criminality and anti-community activity become subject to immediate expulsion & disassociation from the membership.  This stance is supported by the UDA decommissioning statement 2010, where it was stated  

“we were formed to defend our communities…this responsibility now rests with the Institutions where legitimacy resides”

It is important to note that this also returns Loyalism to one of its first mottos as a historical reference point: 

‘law before violence

This position also takes account of local circumstances, where the overt and wide-spread criminality practised, sanctioned by and associated with previous leaderships in North Belfast, not only brought the organisation and Loyalism into disrepute, but inflicted severe damage to our local host communities.

In regards to that local circumstance, the North Belfast  UDA  direction has been determined and mandated in the Ballycastle & Londonderry conferences of 2004, held with Church and Community groups from across North Belfast, that opened up the organisation to a level of accountability through the methodology of a secret ballot, where our community could ask and receive questions from the leadership, and assist in developing a blueprint for change, with criminality identified as both anti-community and anti-loyalist activity that required redress.  Although these conferences began the early spadework to plant those seeds of change, and the UDA Remembrance Day Declaration 2007 was to re-enforce that process of change, the local catalyst came in the form of a local drug related suicide of a young boy in North Belfast that called for immediate remedial action.

At that time the UDA gave clear and unambiguous commitments to the community that they have honoured, yet acknowledge that there are many that were unable or unwilling to stick to those commitments, that has resulted in over 150 members being expelled for criminality the most of which were drugs related. This also seen the UDA lobby for appropriate resources to bring FASA into North Belfast to promote education in relation to drugs and suicide, deliver counselling services and design a community safety-net for those struggling with addiction and suicidal tendencies. 

For these reasons North Belfast UPRG  have also continued to support the development of Policing/Community Safety Partnerships across many areas of North Belfast, to cement the transition of Loyalism and contribute to the peaceful development of our community.

This is placing Loyalism back at the heart of the community

Putting Communities First
Criminality represents the biggest threat to communal stability and the development of a prosperous and peaceful post-conflict society. The creation of ‘safer space’ for communities should be a paramount consideration towards developing stable and sustainable communities. 

Crime remains the biggest disincentive for investment and regeneration within working class areas already experiencing high deprivation and dereliction, and its prominence directly contributes to the cycle of poverty by preying on those most vulnerable and susceptible within our community, often leaving a burden of debt, depression and destabilisation in its wake. 

Crime also contributes to the decline of our communities, with population shifts often due to the prominence and impact of crime rather than being an expression of social mobility or external threat, as residents are forced to move away from the problem rather than being helped to resolve it. If communities are to enjoy a level of normality, relative peace and an improved quality of life, we believe it is imperative that all aspects of the community work together, and face up to the challenges of transformation, to promote effective local policing and community safety in a legitimate & law abiding manner.

This will involve dramatic changes in traditional attitudes. The legacy of conflict and the reality of what could often be negative paramilitary control and influence have left what can only be described as an unacceptable climate of fear within some communities that prevents them from fully engaging with police effectively and confidently. To address both this fear, and the perception of fear, we must begin to remodel behaviours which retain communities within cultures of silence, and encourage a cultural shift from the mindset of ‘touting’ or ‘informing’, to allow this to become realigned to and rebranded as ‘responsible citizenship’. 

If we do not address the under-reporting of crime, which in turn contributes to the under-resourcing of statutory/communal responses, this only serves to consolidate and protect the criminal, and leaves our communities susceptible to those content to prey on the weak and vulnerable, within a cycle that sustains criminality. 

North Belfast UPRG  supports the development of community-led Policing and Community Safety Partnerships as a valuable first step in building a level of community confidence. It is our experience that partnership based approaches between the community and statutory sector enhances participation, facilitates inclusion, provides accountability and promotes empowerment. 

The concept of local Community Policing and Safety Partnerships supports “handing back” responsibility for policing and community safety to the police and relevant agencies, but has also creates an environment and mechanisms for the community to work in partnership with the police and those relevant agencies to effectively deal with crime and various issues associated with anti-social behaviour.  This will facilitate members of the community to not only feel responsible, but also to take responsibility  in creating an informed and engaged community to work in partnership with the police and statutory agencies, and ensure that we can create a narrow ground for the criminals. 

A table of accountability will empower communities to hold those statutory agencies accountable on these issues, as well as facilitate residents to become engaged to play a full and valued role in prioritising how local policing is delivered, directed and measured.

At the same time, we must acknowledge that the priority of those residents within our communities is focussed on what is happening in their street or to their next door neighbour, and as such the wider strategic policing agenda tends to have less relevance or impact on their everyday lives. Indeed, many residents would reflect that the needs & concerns of their particular community are lost or side-lined within the bigger and strategic frame of reference.


Whilst enforcement has to remain the priority on dealing with criminals, education must also be provided to assist those on the fringes of crime to access the opportunity to become responsible citizens. For this reason the UPRG  believe that our communities must be supported to foreground local approaches that promote policing with communities to make local policing work, rather than continue policing on the community or in isolation from the community. North Belfast UPRG also support the main-streaming of local community safety initiatives to ensure their continued success in providing communal responses against criminality and support of effective policing, as complimentary and inter-dependent processes which maximise delivery.

Making justice work for US

As paramilitarism recedes, and residues of this naturally evolve, the overt and growing influence of drug & crime gangs within our communities; given their nature, prominence & readily access to weaponry, should be re-graded as ‘narco-terrorists’ & appropriate resources deployed in tackling and prioritising this issue.  Those at the demand end of the drugs-trade should be afforded the option of light sentencing by Courts if they avail of & complete addiction counselling during imprisonment and for 2yrs following their probationary release into the community, with further reductions made available for co-operation with identifying those responsible in the supply chain.  Sentencing policy must be reviewed to make sure it is effective in tackling crime and protecting the public, with appropriate sentencing that takes account of the submission of community and victim impact assessments to Courts. Sexual and drugs-supply based offences should be afforded maximum sentencing to best protect and reassure the public, to deter crime and re-offending.