Page last updated at 12:28 GMT, Wednesday, 7 April 2010 13:28 UK

Baggott clarifies 'gangs' remark

Matt Baggott
Matt Baggott took over as chief constable last year

Northern Ireland's chief constable Matt Baggott has clarified his comments comparing dissident republicans to Brixton street gangs of the 1980s.

He said he had never underestimated the "ideological commitment of some of these people".

However, he maintained there were "parallels" in terms of the levels of violence used by the groups.

Speaking on Radio 4's World at One, Mr Baggott said he did not regret his remarks.

The chief constable said: "these criminal terrorists glorify violence, they glorify putting people in fear. They create a mythology, many are involved in crime, they hunt in groups.

"It would be wrong of me not to state that they do have an ideological background, of course they do, going back into the past.

"But actually many of the things they do are related to criminality and related to gangs. There are some interesting parallels between the two and I'm not going to change my mind on that".

Also speaking on the programme, acting chairman of Northern Ireland's Policing Board, Brian Rea, said that "not many people in Northern Ireland would have made the same comparison" that Mr Baggott made.

However Mr Baggott said "a significant number of people would say there are parallels with street gangs".

The chief constable first made the comparison between Brixton gangs and dissident groups on Radio Ulster's Seven Days programme in March.

Mr Baggott, who was formerly chief constable of Leicestershire, took over as head of the PSNI from Sir Hugh Orde last September.

There have been several dissident republican attacks during his tenure, including the bomb attack which critically injured Constable Peader Heffron.



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