Belfast Telegraph

Police chief Baggott jumps to defence of PSNI tactics in managing riots in Northern Ireland

By Deborah McAleese

Chief Constable Matt Baggott has defended the management of riots by the PSNI's command team after the police rank-and-file union accused bosses of not doing enough to prevent officers being injured.

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland, which represents officers, said it has launched a formal complaint with the Health and Safety Executive regarding "a failure by the PSNI in its duty of care to officers".

The Chief Constable said he has always been determined to protect his colleagues.

During the PFNI's annual conference yesterday – which was attended by Mr Baggott, Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and Justice Minister David Ford, the union's chairman Terry Spence said 820 officers were injured on duty last year during flag protests and violence orchestrated by the UVF and the UDA.

He said they had been left "feeling isolated and rudderless".

"Those in command who dither need to understand that the safety of officers is being jeopardised while those same officers struggle to prevent anarchy on our streets.

"The delayed authorisation on the deployment and use of necessary protective measures, such as AEPs [attenuated energy projectiles] and water cannon, are the major reasons for the shocking injury toll."

Responding to the criticism, Mr Baggott said he shared Mr Finlay's "passion and concern that we protect officers every way possible". He said that was why five years ago he and his top team fought for, and won, an additional £245m for security, as well as "a brand new Land Rover fleet, up-to-date protective equipment, doubled the number of officers trained to deal with public order and brought over a thousand officers from England and Wales" to help deal with public order last year.

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