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Thousands of police from Britain set to help guard G8 summit in Fermanagh

By Liam Clarke

Up to 2,500 police officers will come to Northern Ireland from other parts of the UK to help police the G8 summit at Enniskillen in June, Justice Minister Ford said.

He sees it as a possible test for mutual aid arrangements in the future.

Providing security at the G8 summit in Enniskillen will be a major operation for the PSNI as leaders of the world's eight wealthiest countries meet.

When it was held in Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005, 10,000 police were involved and the security bill was £100m. The PSNI has only 7,100 officers. Mr Ford discussed the issue with Scottish Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill last Friday. Most officers will come from Scotland but others would come from English and Welsh forces, he told the Belfast Telegraph.

It will be the first time large number of officers from other parts of the UK have been deployed here and will be seen as a test for future co-operation.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has revealed that PSNI teams will be travelling to Britain in the run-up to the summit to provide specialist training.

Mr Ford added: "There will be significant cross-border security issues to be co-ordinated with the gardai. Many of the support staff and journalists are likely to be staying across the border in Cavan, Monaghan and south Donegal and it is assumed that some of the delegations will fly in through Dublin."

Mr Ford also told the Belfast Telegraph that he had applied to be allowed to trial X-ray equipment instead of full body searches in Maghaberry prison. Earlier this month, trials of Millimetre Wave Body scanners, an alternative technology, were abandoned after they failed to detect drugs, mobile phone batteries, scissors and a knife in tests.

"There are blind spots on the body for the millimetre wave scanners so, unless the manufacturers can bring about improvements, we won't be using them," Mr Ford said. "We are submitting a justification application to London to trial transmission X-rays which are believed to be much more effective but have never previously been licensed in a prison context in the UK."

Transmission and backscatter X-ray systems are used to detect drugs at airports. Prisoners being moved for court cases would be exposed more frequently, creating a risk of sterility and cancer.

Belfast Telegraph


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