NI police commander not expecting to need reinforcements for no-deal Brexit

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A police commander in Northern Ireland has said he does not expect to need reinforcements from other police forces this year to deal with a no-deal Brexit.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said putting precautionary procedures in place was part of a sensible planning process ahead of the EU exit at the end of March.

The PSNI is yet to make a formal request under mutual aid arrangements, which are in place to enable local police forces to help each other in times of heightened demands.

Mr Hamilton said: “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.

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

He said normally the plans are in place for the summer months, but this year additional resources will be available from the date of the EU exit at the end of March, in line with national contingency planning.

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.

Mr Hamilton added: “Quite rightly, the public expect their police service to make plans to keep them safe in all eventualities and that is what PSNI will continue to do.”

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.

“An application is made each year, but additionally this comes after the Chief Constable got all the extra funding he had previously requested.

“That funding will allow the recruitment of an additional 308 officers and staff.”

Mr Wilson added: “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.”

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