PSNI has asked for 330 officers from the rest of the UK to assist with an extensive security operation during US President Joe Biden’s visit to Northern Ireland.
Mr. Biden has confirmed that he will visit Northern Ireland and the Republic as part of celebrations around the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement next month.
Assistant Chief Constable Chris Todd said that while there was no firm date for the presidential visit, the police service would have contingencies in place.
He said: “We have requested approximately 330 officers from across the UK to support the policing operation.
Mutual Aid Officers will be used to provide additional search capabilities and a range of other specialized police functions during this period.
“Mutual Aid Officers are a vital part of the broader policing and security operation of these events.
They will be provided with the necessary equipment and induction training.
They come to Northern Ireland to help with the security process and it’s not every day for policing in Northern Ireland. “
PSNI Police Chief Simon Byrne, who is currently in Washington, said it would be a “unique policing operation” that would require PSNI’s support.
“It’s going to be a grueling process and it’s going to be a massive policing,” he told the BBC.
Mr Byrne added: “We are in really close dialogue with our colleagues in England and Wales as we potentially will require hundreds of specialist officers to come to Northern Ireland to support what will be a unique policing operation.
“We are really proud to be playing our part through 25 years of all the good news and optimism that has resulted from the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.
“If you think about the busy period during the summer months, we don’t usually seek help from other parts of the UK.
“An operation like this, even if we are at full resources, we will have to rely on some specialized support.
“The size of this means it will be a larger order than usual.
“I expect that hundreds of officers from England and Wales will support what we are doing.”
He added, “We are a strong and resilient organization and have shown time and time again that we can rise to the challenge even in challenging times.
“This is a very carefully planned operation, we take advice and learn from recent events elsewhere in the UK and want to do our part to ensure that everyone can enjoy the celebration of the agreement, moving around peacefully and without interruption.”
Mr. Byrne has previously raised concerns about PSNI’s resources due to persistent funding shortfalls. He said that this will form part of his message during his meetings in the United States.
He said: I came here with two letters. One is for investors that Northern Ireland is the safest part of the UK, but at the same time we need a well-resourced police service to meet the challenges.
“We are not going back to the atrocities of the past, the terrorist threat at the moment is about attacking the police force, it is not about deterring investors.”
Asked about the condition of senior detective John Caldwell, who was injured multiple times in an attack in Co Teron last month, Byrne said: “John is receiving utmost care but remains seriously ill.”
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