THE rioting which took place in Craigavon at the weekend was prompted by the discovery of a cannabis factory by police, the ‘MAIL’ has learned.
Shortly before 1am on Sunday morning officers responded to a report of a suspected burglary and, during the course of their investigation, uncovered a small cannabis factory.
Officers then came under attack from a large crowd throwing bricks and bottles.
Two hours later a Vauxhall Astra car was hijacked in the Monbrief East Road area and set on fire at Roundabout Three. The car was completely destroyed.
The crowd dispersed before 4am and police remained in the area for a time to monitor the situation.
PSNI Craigavon Area Commander, Chief Inspector Anthony McNally, revealed police had discovered the drugs find while responding to a report of a burglary.
He condemned the violent actions of the small group of people which followed the drugs find.
Chief Inspector McNally said: “The local community have highlighted the use and supply of illegal drugs as a priority for police in this area however, as police attempted to secure the scene and begin enquiries they came under attack from a small number of people.
“Bricks and bottles were thrown at officers and a Land Rover was damaged. A taxi was also damaged and a car was hijacked and set on fire.
“Officers went to Ardowen to protect the public and offer assistance. We are doing our utmost to tackle the issues you identify to us but we are being prevented from delivering a higher quality service due to the actions of a few.
“We need you to work with us and help us to address crime in your area. I am asking anyone with information about the individuals involved in this disorder to contact us at Lurgan Police Station on 0845 600 8000. If you prefer to provide information without giving your details you can contact the independent Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
Craigavon Mayor Cllr Carla Lockhart commented: “Those people engaged in rioting do not speak for the people of Craigavon. It is widely known that the majority of people want to get on with their lives, live peaceably and not be subjected to this thuggish and violent behaviour.
“Those who involve themselves in this rioting are damaging their own communities and are not supported by the wider public. As Mayor I have the opportunity to see the fantastic work that is happening within the borough, this is what people want reported on not this unacceptable behaviour by a minority grouping.”
Ulster Unionist MLA Sam Gardiner said that this mindless violence does nothing but damage the economy and makes the task of creating jobs for young people even more difficult than is already the case.