PSNI planning ‘ongoing’ in case extra riot-police needed

PSNI
PSNI

The PSNI has confirmed it is currently planning for “mutual aid” in the event that extra riot police are required.

This follows reports that an email was sent to officrs across the UK asking for “level 2 public order trained officers” to volunteer to assist the PSNI.

PSNI chief constable George Hamilton

PSNI chief constable George Hamilton

The email was first reported by the Sun newspaper on Tuesday.

PSNI Chief Superintendent Simon Walls confirmed that while the force was “working closely” with its counterparts elsewhere in the UK, any extra officers would only be sought from elsewhere if “absolutely necessary”.

Last month, it was confirmed more than 300 new police officers and staff are to be recruited in Northern Ireland by 2020 as part of preparations for Brexit.

The PSNI received a £16 million windfall from the Chancellor.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council confirmed to the News Letter earlier today that no formal request had yet been made, while the PSNI said that while there is “as yet” no indication extra officers will need to be drafted in, planning work was “ongoing”.

Described as ‘mutual aid’, police forces across the UK often share officers for major events — including US President Donald Trump’s summertime visit to the UK.

A spokesperson for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “Forces routinely share officers through Mutual Aid. It is used to ensure an appropriate police presence exists where there is increased demand for it.”

Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said: “PSNI are working closely with other UK policing partners in our Brexit planning processes. Mutual aid would only be sought if absolutely necessary, however sensible precautionary preparations for it do form part of our ongoing planning work.

“Such precautionary planning around mutual aid is something that happens every year across UK policing and if it were actually required, its provision to police services would be managed through the National Police Co-ordination Centre.”

Earlier, a spokesperson for the PSNI had said: “PSNI are working closely with other UK policing partners in our planning processes.

“While there is, as yet, no indication that mutual aid will be required, preparations for mutual aid form part of our ongoing planning work.”

In December, PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton said the force had been working since the Brexit referendum result to prepare.

“Since the referendum result, PSNI have been working with our partners to ensure we are in the best position possible to respond to any changes presented by Brexit,” he said.

Both the EU and UK have said they want to avoid the return of a hard border — physical checks or infrastructure — when the UK leaves the EU.

Brexiteers favour using technology in lieu of physical checks on goods on the frontier, which would require customs officers and potentially a police presence. But opponents have said the required technology does not exist.