South Armagh fiasco: ‘We never intended to create an all-island policing model’ says PSNI chief Simon Byrne

One of the major concerns of unionists about this week’s South Armagh Policing Review was the emphasis on cross-border policing.

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 10:21 am
Updated Friday, 3rd September 2021, 10:44 am

The report is very keen on the issue, so much so that it forms the basis for five separate action points:

> Recommendation 45:

“A bi-lateral policing agreement should be explored... with the aim of facilitating joint rather than parallel policing operations by PSNI and An Garda Siochana (AGS). As a minimum this should enable cross border hot pursuit between jurisdictions.”

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> Recommendation 46:

“A cross border accountability mechanism should be established at local level with bi-annual reporting by PSNI and AGS on joint cross-border performance priorities ...”

> Recommendation 47:

“A cross border command and control protocol should be developed with focus on management of police pursuits”

> Recommendation 48:

“There should be increased policing collaboration ... all operational officers should have access to, and monitor, shared radio networks ... Routine daily telephone briefings should take place between supervisors from both jurisdictions.”

> Recommendation 49:

“Formal monthly meetings should take place ... co-chaired by a superintendent from each policing jurisdiction.”

Mr Byrne stressed to the Policing Board: “Let me be categorically clear on this issue – wording within the report has been misunderstood. Neither the review nor the police service at any time has considered or envisaged ‘all-Ireland policing structures’ and ‘joint’ day-to-day patrolling.”

These recommendations just build on “established local structures” he said.

And on the issue of cross-border pursuits, Mr Byrne recognised that this requires “both political support and legislation” – something which unionists would likely be able to veto at Stormont.

DUP Policing Board member Tom Buchanan had said ahead of the meeting that he would quit the board if Mr Byrne gave his full support to all the recommendations.

He could not be reached last night.

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