Police exchange programme: Training? Operational deployment? Both?

In response to the concerns raised by the chairman of the South Yorkshire Police Federation, Bob Pitt, the reported statement by the PSNI appears to confirm that the “training programmes in NI” for police officers from Yorkshire, Northumbria and Strathclyde over the next few months may involve operational deployment.

From the BBC report

Bob Pitt is chairman of the South Yorkshire Police Federation.

“Obviously our concern is for PSNI officers in the first instance, they’re the ones who are currently facing targeted violence and quite clearly, we’ve got concerns for our own members on a similar footing.

“It’s important for us to separate the proposal as being one of training, as opposed to operational deployment, so whether there’s a similar degree of threat that officers would face simply coming across to enjoy the training facilities in NI is a different kettle of fish altogether.”

Mr Pitt said the UK’s geographical closeness could not be used as a “panacea”.

“It can’t be something that you can rely on if things flare up in NI and need to be dealt with in the way that the PSNI currently deal with them,” he said.

And the statement from the PSNI

In a statement, the PSNI said:”It is acknowledged that the PSNI have led the way in developing a human rights-based approach to policing and also in negotiating with protest organisers.

“As part of an ongoing process, units from Yorkshire, Strathclyde and Northumbria will be training with PSNI units over the next few months to develop skills, experience and knowledge.

In turn, PSNI officers will assist colleagues in Northumbria and Strathclyde in policing potential public order situations.” [added emphasis]

Adds In a different comment zone Greenflag points to this Yorkshire Post report

A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said the training was part of the National ACPO Interoperability Programme, which aims to give police officers experience in other policing environments, both to “further their career development and to enable them to deploy in that environment should the need ever arise.”

They said there had been no request thus far from the PSNI for officers to serve in Northern Ireland and the Northern Irish force is “experienced and resourced to meet any forthcoming public order demands.”

The spokesman added: “Any such request would receive careful consideration from the chief constable and would involve consultation with the force command team, the Police Federation, Superintendents’ Association and the Police Authority. Again, no such request has been received.”

Duncan McCausland, assistant chief constable with the PSNI, said if they were deployed, they would only patrol “less contentious” areas – unless there was a significant rise in violence, in which case they would be moved nearer the front line.