Belfast Telegraph

FBI agents 'may be trained at site'

Future FBI agents could be trained at the new emergency services college in Cookstown, a senior police officer has indicated.

The US's Federal Bureau of Investigation has held talks with the Police Service of Northern Ireland about the possibility of using the £140 million facilities at Desertcreat when they open in 2015, Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie said.

The commander revealed that 61 private developers had shown interest in bidding for the tender to build the police, fire and prison services college - an 18-month project that will employ 1,500 construction workers.

Mrs Gillespie, who chairs the college's programme board, said the facilities on the 250-acre site will be world class. She said the FBI and other international law enforcement agencies were interested in using the facilities for anti-terrorism and public order training.

"There are all sorts of opportunities opening up for us to have residential training for national and international colleagues, not just in policing but fire and rescue and prisons as well," she said.

She added: "The FBI are already expressing an interest, our colleagues in An Garda Siochana and the rest of UK (as well).

"There is the FBI academy in Quantico in Virginia but we have huge experience here and it's often been the case where we've sent people to America to learn about policing techniques only to discover that we know as much if not more than the Americans do.

"And I think we have a real product to sell here, not just on counter-terrorism and our experience here over the last 30 to 40 years but also policing public order in a human rights-compliant way."

Mrs Gillespie said the project would provide a real boon for the local construction industry.

"This is a big deal," she said. "A big public sector construction project - one of the few in town at the moment - so there's a huge amount of interest in it."

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