29/11/2018

Government 'Must Fund Extra Officers To Police Irish Border Post Brexit'

The UK Government must give police financial assurances that they will have the resources to patrol the Irish border in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) has said.

The body representing rank-and-file officers in Northern Ireland said a failure to fund extra recruits would force the redeployment of hundreds of policemen and women away from their current positions in towns and cities, to cover border crossings.

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton has called on the Home Office to provide financing for 400 extra officers to allow the force to cope with the repercussions of Brexit.

The federation believes even more officers will be needed and said a Government decision was "overdue".

PFNI chairman Mark Lindsay demanded "certainty, direction and clarity" around Brexit and its implications on policing after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019.

"The political turmoil around Brexit is for politicians to resolve, but what we are saying is accelerate contingency planning to prepare for what happens from 01 April," he said.

"We cannot afford to sleepwalk into a situation where, at the last minute, officers are redeployed from cities and towns such as Belfast, Ballymena or Coleraine to some of the major crossing points along the 310-mile border with the Republic of Ireland.

"We need hundreds more officers if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal. The case has already been made by the PSNI for more resources, and decisions are now overdue."

Mr Lindsay's comments come amid warnings from officials on both sides of the border, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, that a hard Brexit could prompt an upsurge in dissident republican activity, with the border becoming a target for violent attacks.

He added: "We simply cannot produce 300-400 officers overnight and if Government approval for an increase in the size of the PSNI isn't forthcoming quite soon, then we will be left to confront major gaps in service provision as we race to meet requirements in a hard Brexit scenario.

"I am appealing to all concerned to make this a major priority and to get it sorted out without further procrastination. It is much too serious an issue to leave on the long finger."



(JG)

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