More than 80 per cent of loyalist extortion cases – most perpetrated by the UDA and reported to the PSNI – never lead to an arrest.
That is the shocking admission by the police force’s Organised Crime Task Force in a recent strategy document that said: “In 81 per cent of cases reported an investigation could not be pursued because the victim requested no police action”.
The glossy document which outlines the 2004 strategy for combating organised crime said 70 per cent of racketeering crimes were carried out by the UDA/UFF last year.
The report is further evidence of the UDA’s grip on vice affecting North Belfast businesses including the Ballysillan/Westland UDA who extort cash from local builders, shops and restaurants.
“According to reported incidents, the construction industry is hardest hit, accounting for 50 per cent of all incidents. In some cases the demands run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. Although difficult to quantify due to under reporting it could run into several million pounds per annum,” says the report.
The Task Force included the Assets Recovery Unit, which has been criticised for not doing enough to seize the assets of notorious loyalist criminal godfathers, drug dealers and vice ring kings. SDLP MLA Alban Maginness said much more needed to be done to bring more perpetrators to justice.
“It remains to be seen how efficient the Organised Crime Taskforce will be. Recent events where drug dealers have been apprehended and especially the very successful operation against cross border fuel smuggling indicate that while progress is slow, there are results,” he said.
“It is apparent that the Taskforce has prioritised certain operations. It is a positive step, but there is much more to be done. More resources need to be allocated to the Organised Crime Taskforce so they can tackle more cases and do so more urgently.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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