Extra police for Brexit aftermath in Northern Ireland ‘won’t be needed’

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A senior PSNI officer has said he does not expect to need the 1,000 potential reinforcements from other UK police forces who are set to begin training for possible post-Brexit deployment to Northern Ireland.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said putting precautionary procedures in place was part of a sensible planning process ahead of the European Union exit at the end of March.

However, ACC Hamilton said the PSNI has not yet made a formal request under the existing ‘mutual aid’ arrangements, which are in place to allow the free movement of officers at times of heightened demand.

The PSNI is yet to make a formal request under the arrangements, which enable local police forces to help each other at key times.

“At the present time, we do not have any reason to believe we will need to request mutual aid during 2019, but putting precautionary procedures in place for it is part of a sensible planning process,” Mr Hamilton said.

“Planning around mutual aid happens every year across UK policing.”

The post-Brexit contingency planning brings forward the date of the annual arrangement that provides additional resources for the PSNI, if required, over the summer months.

Mr Hamilton said: “Our view is that it is better to have precautionary plans in place and not use them, than find we may need additional police support but cannot have it because we have not alerted the National Police Coordination Centre in advance.

“While we plan for mutual aid, we will only ever use it when it is absolutely necessary and proportionate.”

The step was taken in 2013 ahead of protests surrounding the holding of the G8 in Fermanagh and significant public disorder linked to loyal order parades and counter-protests.

DUP East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson said there was nothing to suggest the 1,000 officers available to the PSNI under the mutual aid scheme will be required following the United Kingdom leaving the EU.

He said: “It is unsurprising that the PSNI have attempted to downplay the mutual aid application.

“Both the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom have said they will not impose any new infrastructure at the border which could be the focus of any attack so it is difficult to ascertain what eventualities the officers would train for. It is important that people do not needlessly create alarm.”