Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

PSNI officers help Cumbria police

People look at floral tributes that have been left close to the scene where taxi driver Darren Rewcastle was shot in Whitehaven, Cumbria.
Gunman: Derrick Bird
Derrick Bird

Police officers from Northern Ireland were drafted in to field calls from relatives frantically trying to find out if their loved ones were caught up in the Cumbria gun massacre.

The phone support was requested by the Cumbria Constabulary as the scale of the tragedy became clear on Wednesday afternoon, enabling them to free up police men and women to attend the 30 crime scenes.

Around 30 specially trained officers were called into the casualty bureau phone centre at PSNI HQ in east Belfast to take calls for around six hours from family members desperate for information.

Taxi driver Derrick Bird murdered 12 people and injured 11 others in a crazed shooting spree in the rural county.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland said the link-up was a good example of police forces working together and pooling resources.

"Really it's not about the accent of who is answering your call, it's that someone does answer your call and answers it effectively, taking and recording your details and your concerns," he said.

"I think it was critically important that we as a police service PLC for the United Kingdom were able to offer a resource and in effect could then pool together to assist each other."

Details of the call support were outlined at Thursday's monthly meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board in Belfast.

Acting chair of the board Brian Rea thanked the officers involved.

"Of course, today our thoughts are with the families of those who have been killed and injured in Cumbria yesterday," he said.

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