Hundreds of police officers seconded to Northern Ireland for next month’s G8 summit are being trained how to drive armoured Land Rovers used by the PSNI.
Around 730 officers received intensive one-to-one training on how to handle the specialist vehicles as part of the huge security operation for the summit.
Driving instructors from the PSNI were dispatched to five driving schools in England, Scotland and Wales to assist the training.
Around 3,600 officers will be drafted in from other UK forces to help with the unprecedented policing operation at the G8.
The security bill for the two-day conference, which will be attended by eight of the world’s most powerful leaders including Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, is expected to top £50m.
Fifteen PSNI trainers were deployed for four weeks to the Scottish Police College, Merseyside Police Driving School, Greater Manchester Police Driving School, South Wales Police Driving School and the Metropolitan Police Driving School.
All officers received training on how to drive the specialist vehicles and manage the specific handling characteristics, along with training on health and safety issues.
Chief Superintendent Kevin Dunwoody, the PSNI’s head of training and development, said the course was designed to provide 730 officers with the knowledge and skills required for safe, effective operational deployment during the G8.
“All of these officers were already experienced drivers of police emergency vehicles.
“This additional training was to familiarise them with the specific features of armoured Land Rovers. They now have the appropriate level of expertise required to assist with the significant policing operation that will be in place around G8.
“The officers were very impressed by the standards of the PSNI training and are looking forward to their deployment in Northern Ireland.”
The G8 summit will take place on June 17 and 18 at the five-star Lough Erne Resort near Enniskillen.
A ring of steel has been erected to keep thousands of anti-capitalist protesters away from the luxury golf resort and roads into and out of the area will be closed.
Meanwhile, a newsletter with information about the G8 summit is being delivered to every address in Fermanagh this week.
It provides information on what to expect around the summit and how to access services.
Thomas O’Reilly, chairman of Fermanagh District Council, said disruption was likely.
“People should expect some disruption with such a large number of people, including support staff and international media, all making their way to the county,” he said.
The G8 summit takes place on June 17 and 18 at the Lough Erne Resort near Enniskillen. Much of Northern Ireland is expected to go into lockdown as an unprecedented security operation gets under way. An extra 3,600 specially trained public order police officers are being drafted in to help bolster the 7,000 PSNI members and the military. Two private security firms have also been hired to help with searches and perimeter security.