‘Ending the Harm’ public awareness campaign on so called ‘paramilitary style attacks’ relaunched

Date published: 05 August 2019

A hard-hitting campaign about the brutal reality of so-called ‘paramilitary style attacks’ will be relaunched today (Monday 5th August).

Graphic for DoJ news

The ‘Ending the Harm’ campaign, which is part of the Executive Action Plan to Tackle Paramilitary Activity, Criminality and Organised Crime, is aimed at highlighting the devastating impact of so-called ‘paramilitary style attacks’ on victims, their families, local communities and wider society.

The multi-media campaign, which was first launched in October 2018, tells the story of a paramilitary style shooting from the points of view of the four people involved: the victim, his mother, the paramilitary gang member and a witness.

The radio advertisements and social media activity will go live today (Monday 5th August) and the TV advertisements are scheduled for broadcast from Monday 12th August. Outdoor advertising depicting an image of a badly beaten man will also be relaunched later this month.

Explaining the reasons behind the campaign, Anthony Harbinson, from the Tackling Paramilitarism, Criminality and Organised Crime Programme Board, said: “Before we launched this campaign, research showed that 35% of people living in those areas most impacted by paramilitary activity thought so-called ‘paramilitary style attacks’ were justified in certain circumstances.

“The purpose of this campaign has been to highlight the devastating toll these attacks have and help people understand that the criminals who carry out these attacks don’t care about people, or justice, or solving social problems in communities. They don’t offer protection and they are only interested in exerting control and exploiting people for their own gain, using violence as a means to do so.

“Recent research carried out to assess the impact of the campaign, and get a snapshot of current attitudes towards so-called ‘paramilitary style attacks’ in those areas, now shows that 19% of people believe they are justified; that’s a 46% decrease which is encouraging.

“But the reality is these barbaric attacks are still an issue of concern. The latest statistics show that, between July 2018 and June 2019, there were 81 victims of so-called ‘paramilitary style attacks’. This includes 17 victims of shootings and 64 victims of assaults. That’s approximately one attack every four days.

“In the previous 12 month period, there were a total of 79 so-called ‘paramilitary style attacks’ (20 shootings and 59 assaults). In June of this year alone, there were 12 assaults, the highest number in one month since April 2009.

“Although there has been a long term downward trend, this is still an issue that we as a society need to deal with and this campaign is a vital part of tackling this scourge on our communities.”

Notes to editors: 

1. The research was carried out in May 2019 in those areas most impacted by so-called ‘paramilitary style attacks’ (PSAs) to provide an indication of the effectiveness of the campaign and to take an updated snapshot of attitudes towards the attacks. While caution is exercised in terms of drawing a direct comparison between the results of the two surveys, due to a change in how a paramilitary style attack was defined, the recent research provides a representative indication of the opinions of people living within areas most impacted.

There were substantial shifts in attitude between 2017 and 2019 on whether people agreed/strongly agreed with the following statements:

PSAs are justified / justified in certain circumstances
2017: 35%
2019: 19%
Change: - 46%

PSAs just involved a good kicking
2017: 25%
2019: 18%
Change: - 28%

PSAs deliver swift justice
2017: 34%
2019: 15%
Change: - 56%

A PSA is a good way of giving an offender a warning
2017: 35%
2019: 17%
Change: - 51%

There is normally a good reason for a PSA
2017: 44%
2019: 20%
Change: - 55%

2. You can access the ‘Ending the Harm’ campaign material on the website www.endingtheharm.com

3. To find out more about the Action Plan, click on the link below:


4. The statistics relating to the number of so-called ‘paramilitary style attacks’ are taken from the PSNI’s latest security situation statistics: https://www.psni.police.uk/globalassets/inside-the-psni/our-statistics/security-situation-statistics/2019/june/security-situation-statistics-to-june-2019.pdf

5. For further information, please contact Debra Whyte, Communications and Engagement Manager, on 07825 013917.

6. All other media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

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