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Cross-border operations becoming more effective against serious crime

Chief Constable Matt Baggott is increasing cross-border cooperation with An Garda Siochana to tackle serious crime and terrorism — indicating moves towards a new era for policing in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at a recent British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly conference Mr Baggott said that there is now an opportunity “to reshape some of the ways we see criminal justice and some of the ways we see collaboration and some of the ways we police”.

Mr Baggott said it is his plan “to improve confidence” and “to tackle the serious” alongside his colleagues in the Garda.

“If we do that, we will get more intelligence, more information and also to concentrate very strongly on the whole thing with value for money,” he said.

Mr Baggott said that he and Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy are working closely “in a relationship that isn’t just about trust” but also “highly practical ways of dealing with security and safety.”

Regarding the Border, he said he did not “disrespect” that it may be “hugely important for people”, but described it as “an artificial concept for criminals” and said it shouldn’t stop police cooperating.

“Over the past year we have brought to justice drug dealers, significant players, not just in the south and north, but also through England, into Europe, as far away as Turkey and Holland.

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“We are in a truly international world of drug dealing and cooperation and we have to be equally entrepreneurial as those people that operate across borders. If there are barriers to stop us being entrepreneurial we have to identify them and deal with them, otherwise the criminals will be one step ahead.

“But we are already on the front door and we have locked up drug dealers and fuel smugglers and we are preventing serious terrorist activity. Every day we are tackling this threat. Not only that, we are tackling people trafficking. There are young children being trafficked from the north to the south. I didn’t think slavery existed today, but it does, so anyone that says to me you shouldn’t be cooperating with my colleagues in the Garda my answer is ‘so do you want children brought into slavery?’”

Mr Baggott said that the two forces have commissioned work to “look at some of the things we think we should take a stage further”.

Recognising there may be some opposition to this growing cooperation between the two forces Mr Baggott said that people have a right to life and police officers have a right to work “without being blown up”.

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