By Eamon Sweeney
Nationalist politicians in Derry have issued strong cautions over the PSNI issuing a request to other UK police forces for additional riot-trained officers in the event of disturbances if a no-deal Brexit emerges.
It has emerged that the PSNI has sent an email to police forces asking for personnel with ‘Level 2 public order training’ to volunteer to assist them before Britain departs the EU in less than three months time.
It’s believed that three training days for those prepared to volunteer to help the PSNI have been scheduled to take place before March 29, 2019-the date on which the UK leaves the European Union.
The reason for the training is to provide police officers with the capacity to carry out the type of policing operations which are more usual in the North.
A 'meaningful vote' on Theresa May's Brexit deal is scheduled to take place at Westminster on January 14.
Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson told the Derry News that the police service should not differ in comparison to all other emergency services that may be affected by Brexit.
“Brexit should not be used in anyway to increase policing. A hardening of the border is totally avoidable. The Good Friday Agreement, which is legally binding, ensures that there can be no hardening of the border in Ireland.
“The Good Friday Agreement also provided us with a method to decide which union we want to belong to. In the event of constitutional change, we have the right to decide.
“The PSNI putting out this call is the last thing we need. There would be deep and genuine concerns about putting police on the border in Ireland.
“This should be a ‘no go’ area for policing as the backstop arrangement is there to prevent physical infrastructure on the border.
“This is something we don’t need. This is a British exit from the EU. The Tory agenda is causing chaos. It is them at war with themselves and it must be embarrassing for the British establishment and for the people themselves to watch this.
“The people of Ireland have a choice. It’s lodged at the United Nations and as I said it’s legally binding. It’s the Good Friday Agreement.
“People are starting to realise that this is reckless, dangerous and could be exploited by all sorts of people.”
SDLP MLA Mark Durkan told the Derry News: “Should more police be deployed here for those reasons it would be a hugely retrograde step and could have many implications for the maintenance of peace. As indeed does Brexit itself.
“I would also very much doubt whether or not other police forces in the UK can actually provide this as they have been cut to ribbons.
“On another point there is a huge capacity for trouble in English cities after Brexit. There is the likelihood of serious disorder-will the PSNI be called upon to go over there and help for example?”
A spokesperson for the PSNI said: “PSNI are working closely with other UK policing partners in our planning processes.
“While there is, as yet, no indication that mutual aid will be required, preparations for mutual aid form part of our ongoing planning work.
“Planning around mutual aid is something that happens every year across policing and if required, the provision of mutual aid is provided through the National Police Co-ordination Centre.”
In September last year, PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton said he did not believe that some Westminster politicians understood the scale of the challenge presented by Brexit.
"We're working 24/7 to keep a lid on it," he said.
In December last year it was announced that £16 million would be made available to recruit another 308 officers into the PSNI.
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