300 new police and staff to be recruited for Brexit in NI by 2020

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More than 300 new police officers and staff are to be recruited in Northern Ireland by 2020 for Brexit preparations, the force has said.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) received a £16 million windfall from the Chancellor.

It will be responsible for policing the Irish border after the divorce.

Chief Constable George Hamilton said: “Since the referendum result, PSNI have been working with our partners to ensure we are in the best position possible to respond to any changes presented by Brexit.

“We welcome this additional funding which will allow us to recruit a total of 308 additional officers and staff by April 2020 and make some investment in our estate, IT and infrastructure.

“The ethos of policing with the community has been central to our planning and I want to reassure the communities we serve that this money will be used to keep people safe, by preventing harm, protecting people and bringing offenders to justice.”

Deputy chief constable Stephen Martin said extra money will also be invested into infrastructure and IT, including more police vehicles, radios and computers for the new officers and staff.

He said there were no plans to re-open any of the old police stations along border areas that were closed in recent years or to increase the size of the PSNI estate.

“We have stopped the sale of three stations in Warrenpoint, Aughnacloy and Castlederg, purely as a precautionary measure. If we find we don’t need them, we will continue to sell them,” he said.

The EU and UK have said they want to avoid the return of a hard border – physical checks or infrastructure – after Brexit.

Brexiteers favour using technology in lieu of physical checks on goods on the frontier, which would require customs officers and potentially a police presence.

Brexiteers have favoured using technology in lieu of physical checks on goods on the frontier, which would require customs officers and could potentially require a police presence (Deborah McAleese/PA).

Businesses have said they are horrified at the prospect of a no-deal exit.

The Policing Board oversees police in Northern Ireland and chairwoman Anne Connolly said: “Resources available to the PSNI and their allocation to day-to-day delivery of the policing service is one of the key issues that the board will be discussing with the chief constable in the new year and in the development of policing plans for the time ahead.”

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said the extra money would help the PSNI manage pressures arising from EU exit preparations and reflect the unique and specific concerns in the region.

“The UK Government has invested significantly in the PSNI, with over £230 million of additional security funding over the course of the 2010 parliament and £131 million over the current spending review period.”

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