Derry police chief brands child involvement in rioting 'criminal exploitation'

Police said children as young as six and seven were involved in rioting in Londonderry which broke out as officers were trying to deal with a sudden death.

Police vehicles were pelted with paint petrol bombs, heavy masonry and fireworks.

Derry's most senior police officer described the involvement of children as "criminal exploitation".

Chief Superintendent Gillian Kearney said while damage was caused to police vehicles there were no officers injured. She said officers would be back on the streets of the city on Wednesday to carry out their duties as normal.

"The disorder that developed was utterly senseless. That disorder occurred as officers were dealing with such a sensitive incident is shameful," said Chief Superintendent Kearney.

Police were in the Creggan area dealing with a sudden death when they discovered a suspicious object.

Some of those involved in Derry disorder were as young as six and seven, police said.

Disorder order broke out just before 8pm and lasted to around midnight.

The suspicious object was declared an elaborate hoax.

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, police said: "A 36-year-old man arrested by police dealing with disorder in Derry/Londonderry last night, Tuesday 9th July, has been charged with offences to appear before Londonderry Magistrates Court tomorrow, Thursday 11 July. "The man has been charged with the offences of riot, criminal damage and disorderly behaviour. "As is normal procedure, the charges will be reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service."

Chief Superintendent Gillian Kearney said the disorder diverts resources "away from dealing with the things that matter most". "There are reports of children as young as six and seven years old being involved. This is child criminal exploitation," she said. “We know from the work our officers do on a daily basis, what happened last night will have provoked anger in the local community and wider area.” "I want to reassure the community my officers will be out today working to remove drugs from the streets, responding to domestic abuse calls and protecting communities from those who seek to cause harm to the most vulnerable. I want to commend the officers involved last night." Police have appealed for information.

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