David Cameron has been urged to use the expertise of Northern Ireland’s police force in facing up to the riots that have rocked England.
Speaking in Westminster, the Prime Minister revealed he had already raised the possibility with his emergency committee.
During yesterday’s Westminster debate, Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP MP for Lagan Valley, said: “Can I ask the Prime Minister, in the context of reviewing the actions of the police of the last few days, that they involve the PSNI, using their lengthy experience of riot control, in advising the police about how to handle this situation in the future?”
Mr Cameron said it was “enormously helpful” to have Sir Hugh Orde, former PSNI Chief Constable, as president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, who “served so well in Northern Ireland”.
He said: “It is an issue I have raised myself in Cobra, about accessing the expertise in Northern Ireland. I would just make the point that I think one of the issues that we needed to grip quickly was the fact that this was not a political protest, it was actually looting gangs, and so every case is different.”
Mr Cameron reiterated that the Government had water cannon on standby, which could be in place at 24 hours’ notice.
And he said broadcasters such as the BBC and Sky had a responsibility to hand over unused footage of the riots to police. This follows a judge’s verdict last week that similar footage of riots in Belfast last month should be handed over.
Broadcasters said the decision would jeopardise the safety of the Press, which could be seen as an extension of police.
The House was packed for the emergency debate, with most MPs interrupting their holidays to take part. Mr Donaldson was joined in Westminster by independent MP Lady Hermon, while others, including the Alliance’s Naomi Long and the SDLP contingent, chose to remain in Northern Ireland.
Also absent was Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson, who is taking part in a charity horse race in Mongolia.