30/03/2010

Border Policing Gets Priority

Enhanced levels of cross-border co-operation are expected to aid the fight against the threat from dissident republicans.

Police on both sides of the border are to step up joint activities with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and An Garda Siochana agreeing what has been described as "a series of protocols that will increase joint working on investigations".

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott (pictured) has said that the development will see more routine and faster transfer of evidence between the services, improved communication channels for officers and the ability to bring more prosecutions against individuals for crimes committed in the neighbouring jurisdiction.

"Our relationship with the Garda operationally is second to none and we have plans to take to both governments in future to improve that further," said Mr Baggott.
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"We have got a joint piece of work at the moment looking at improving our co-operation even more," he said, while carefully emphasising that while "we are policing Ireland as an entity", it is "without breaching sovereignty".

Mr Baggott said the agreement would enable more joint policing to thwart cross-border human trafficking and smuggling.

There has also been a dramatic fall in the number of bank ATM ram-raid robberies which plagued both sides of the Irish border in 2009, with just one taking place this year in NI so far, in the border area, at Crossmaglen.

Meanwhile, the Chief Constable is facing separate criticism over plans to 'disband' the PSNI's Historical Enquiries Team (HET).

Matt Baggott has said a line has to be drawn under the work of the HET within the next three years, but NI Victims' Commissioner Patricia MacBride has said that is unacceptable and she is now seeking a meeting.

The specialist police team was set up in 2005 to re-examine 3,269 murders from the Troubles.

It was estimated that the team would need six years to complete the task. However, work has yet to begin on more than 1,300 cases.

See: Cops 'Foil ATM Robbers'

(BMcC/GK)

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