Arrests and gun find in hate crime probe

Arrests and gun find in hate crime probe

Police investigating hate crimes have made three arrests and recovered a gun, bullets and a quantity of drugs following searches in east Belfast.

Two men aged 43 and 41, and a 41-year-old woman, were detained under the Terrorism Act in the Castlereagh area of the city on Tuesday afternoon as part of Operation Reiner.Police also found a small quantity of suspected drugs, a firearm and ammunition.A spokesman for the PSNI said: "Detectives working as part of Operation Reiner have today conducted searches in the Castlereagh area as part of their ongoing investigations into the recent increase of hate crimes being committed across Belfast."During the course of these searches, officers recovered a firearm, ammunition and a small quantity of suspected drugs. Two males and a female have been arrested by virtue of Section 41 of the Terrorism Act and they are currently assisting police with their enquiries."Meanwhile police are treating graffiti in east Belfast as a hate crime. It was spotted by a member of the public in the Ravenhill Street area on Tuesday morning.The graffiti, which was painted on a gable wall, carries a racist message. It is understood to be on a derelict property and no-one was inside at the time.A spokesman for the PSNI said: "Police in east Belfast are appealing for information after a report of criminal damage at residential premises at the Ravenhill Street area."It is believed that graffiti was painted on a gable wall in the area. At this stage, police are treating the incident as a hate crime. Enquiries are continuing."It comes as the PSNI steps up its efforts to tackle the recent upsurge of hate crimes in the area, which have included attacks on properties and individuals.In one instance a Romanian cyclist had faeces thrown at him on the Newtownards Road.Police said patrols have been increased in certain areas and arrests are expected to be made in the coming weeks as part of Operation Reiner, which was previously called Op Orion.A spokesperson continued: "Our priority in the coming weeks and months will be enforcement - arrests, searches and charges - to reassure victimised communities that we can act quickly and effectively, and provide a deterrent to people engaged in this criminality. CHAR(13) + CHAR(10) CHAR(13) + CHAR(10)"However, hate crime is an under-reported crime and as a result, we need to ensure victims have the confidence to report these incidents."There is a collective responsibility on all parts of society to protect vulnerable communities and we would encourage people to talk to report concerns or suspicious activity to the police. We need this information from communities to support arrests and make subsequent prosecutions."

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