Surge in paramilitary-style shootings revealed in police figures

The number of paramilitary-style shootings in Northern Ireland has almost tripled in a year, police figures have revealed.

The attacks usually involve the victim being shot in the knees, elbows, ankle or thighs by paramilitaries who often claim it as a “punishment” for anti-social behaviour.

It happens within both loyalist and republican communities

Between October 1 2022 and September 30 2023, there were 19 casualties of these shootings recorded by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

There were five recorded attacks in September alone, the most in a month since June 2016 according to police.

Most took place in Belfast (nine), while there were four each in the Ards and North Down area, and the Derry City and Strabane area.

There were two attacks recorded in the Causeway Coast and Glens area.

A smaller increase was also recorded in the number of paramilitary-style assaults.

This type of attack usually involves the victim being set upon with weapons such as iron bars or baseball bats as a “punishment”.

Some 33 casualties of paramilitary-style assaults were recorded in the last 12 months compared to 29 during the previous 12 months.

Most took place in Belfast (14), more than twice the total for the capital in the previous year (six).

Sean Fox death
An officer from the PSNI at the scene following the shooting of Sean Fox in west Belfast in October 2022 (PA)

Sean Fox, 42, was shot dead at a west Belfast social club in front of more than 100 people in October last year.

Police have not attribute the murder to a particular organisation but said it bore “the hallmarks of dissident republican killings”.

The PSNI recently issued a fresh appeal for information about the murder on the first anniversary.

An increase in the number of bombing incidents across Northern Ireland was also recorded, seven, up from four in the previous 12 month.

Meanwhile the statistics recorded 120 security related arrests under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000, compared to 119 during the previous 12 months.

And some 28 people were subsequently charged, twice the number during the previous 12 months (14).

Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Hill, head of Organised Crime Branch, described paramilitary-style shootings as “appalling acts of violence against some of the most vulnerable members of our communities”.

“There were 19 victims of such assaults during the last 12 months, compared to seven during the previous 12 months.

“Last month alone saw five casualties of such attacks,” he said.

“These actions are deplorable. 

“They’re brutal and cowardly, and have no place whatsoever in today’s society.”

Mr Hill said police, along with partner agencies, “will relentlessly continue to target those groups and individuals who continue to exploit the most vulnerable in our communities”.

“The solution requires collective efforts, and I’m keen to reiterate an appeal to anyone with information, or concerns, to please speak up,” he said.

“You can contact police on the non-emergency number 101, or contact Crimestoppers, with 100% anonymity, on 0800 555 111 or online at”

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