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Newer PSNI officers to get public order refresher training

Worst sectarian violence in years sees use of baton rounds following multiple injuries.

Newer PSNI officers to get public order refresher training

Date - 8th April 2021
By - Chris Smith
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The PSNI has ordered public order refresher training for newer officers in light of eight days of sectarian disturbances which has seen scores of officers injured and the use of baton rounds for the first time in years. 

The force is also using its community officers in identifying young people who took part in the rioting - some as young as 13 -  and working with influencers to try and prevent more violence which has been blamed on increasing community tensions.

The force revealed around 600 people have been involved.

It followed emergency meetings on Thursday after a night of violence that led to frontline officers resorting to accentuated energy projectiles  (AEPs) to tackle offenders.

Northern Ireland Federation Chair Mark Lindsay revealed the chief constable has agreed to organise refresher training in public order tactics for newer officers.

“We’ve asked for a focus on some of the public order training. That’s been quite difficult under COVID-19 so we’ve asked for this to be revisited as a matter of urgency," he told Police Oracle. 

“We’ve been fairly fortunate over the last few years that serious incidents have been quite rare. That has an impact on inexperienced officers,” he said.

And the PFNI warned there was risk of a summer of confrontations unless issues were resolved quickly.

“It’s about trying to keep policing as far out of it as possible and finding a fair and equitable way forward,” Mr Lindsay said.

Mr Lindsay’s comments followed a meeting with CC Byrne to discuss the welfare of the 55 injured officers who suffered lower limb, concussion and burns from being pelted with masonry and petrol bombs.

They are being referred on for welfare and peer support.

Despite the injuries, both the Chief and the PFNI are confident they have the manpower and kit to deal with further incidents.

“Quite a bit of work has gone into getting the right amount of protective equipment. It’s not about increasing resources for resources sake,” he said.

Political and policing leaders have now called on community leaders to pull young people off the streets.

And community officers are working to back the message up.

“That’s exactly where the focus should be,” Mr Lindsay said. “COVID-19 hasn’t been good for policing in general and it’s led to an increase in tensions. We also have tensions around the EU, particularly too."

The force and political leaders had earlier issued statements directly aimed at the groups inciting young people to riot.

ACC Jonathan Roberts said: “We know the actions that we saw last night are not representative of the local community in West Belfast.

"Whilst many of those involved in the disorder last night were adults, it is clear there were many young people involved. Young people were being encouraged to commit criminal acts by adults, who stood by clapping and encouraging the violence," he said.

"There is absolutely no justification for this. Young people need to quickly realise that by engaging in this type of behaviour they are not only risking their safety, they are also risking their futures.”

It followed a night of incidents that included two cars being hijacked, a bus driver pulled from a vehicle that was then set on fire and a press photographer being assaulted.

The Northern Ireland Executive said it was “gravely concerned” and backed CC Byrne.

“We are all united in our support for law and order and we collectively state our support for policing and for the police officers who have been putting themselves in harm’s way to protect others," the statement said.

“We, and our departments, will continue to work together to maximise the support we can give to communities and the PSNI to prevent further violence and unrest.”

The DUP is also being pushed to change its tone.

Northern Ireland’s former police ombudsman Baroness Nuala O’Loan criticised First Minister Arlene Foster – and the Westminster government for the Brexit deal that has sparked the unrest.

“I think it’s entirely inappropriate to have a sort of mob rule that dictates whether a chief constable is allowed to hold office or not,” she said.

Frontline leaders said politicians had been slow to react to the impact of Brexit on border restrictions and there now needed to be “unequivocal” support for the PSNI.

Mr Lindsay said: “They have at last reacted and recognised they should have got on top of this earlier.”

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Ordered by:
Anon - 22 hours ago

With the Second Hand Car Salesman Brandon Lewis and the sophisticated operator Simon Byrne looking after things, what could possibly go wrong!