Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

I can call on other forces for more riot officers: PSNI chief

Matt Baggott

Officers from other forces could be brought into Northern Ireland to help control riots, should public order situations ever reach crisis point, the Chief Constable has said.

Matt Baggott said the PSNI has "huge resources" to deal with riots, but he has still planned for "the worst case scenario".

As well as officers from the PSNI's tactical support group, a large number of the force's district and neighbourhood officers are extensively trained to deal with public disorder, and Mr Baggott said that he could put thousands of officers out on the streets if necessary.

However, should the situation greatly deteriorate, Mr Baggott said that as a last resort he would call in mutual aid from other forces.

"In terms of day-to-day policing, if we ever got to the point when things became very, very difficult it would be foolish of me not to have a series of contingencies in place," he told the Police Review magazine. Mr Baggott said: "In one of the worst cases, last resort places, we might call upon mutual aid from others which is why we train on public order alongside colleagues from a number of other forces.

"We had a contingent of public order colleagues from another force here [earlier this month]. Any responsible chief will have a plan for the worst case scenario. We have huge resources here to deal with public order. We have the most professional, highly trained people in the world.

"I have a lot of level-two trained officers and, if push came to shove, I could put thousands on the street. [Mutual aid] is a last resort, but it would be foolish not to ever think about a worst case scenario."

Mr Baggott said the idea of mutual aid is not new as the PSNI already has support from counter-terrorism units in England and Wales.

Background

June and July saw several nights of serious rioting break out across the province. More than 60 people have been arrested so far in connection with the disorder that in places stretched police resources to the limit. The PSNI says it has large resources to deal with such disorder, however the PSNI can request riot support from other forces.

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