Policing review recommends closer north-south collaboration
A review of policing in South Armagh has recommended closer collaboration between the PSNI and An Garda Síochána.
The 40-page report, published yesterday, calls on the justice departments north and south of the border to explore a bilateral policing agreement “with the aim of facilitating joint rather than parallel policing operations”.
“As a minimum this should enable cross-border hot pursuit between policing jurisdictions in the interests of community safety and policing effectiveness,” the report adds.
The report’s 50 recommendations also include the establishment of a cross-border accountability mechanism, a cross-border command and control protocol and increased collaboration on communications, development and governance.
The review was initiated in January 2020 after a public backlash to a social media post on Christmas Day 2019 in which the PSNI’s chief constable appeared outside Crossmaglen Police Station with local officers carrying police-issue assault rifles.
The report states: “Community feedback obtained in the period which followed highlighted broader concerns regarding the style and tone of local policing. This influenced the decision to dedicate time and resource to reflect objectively on the policing approach and recommend changes that would facilitate an increasingly visible, accessible, responsive and community-focused service.”
Among the recommendations of the report are that Crossmaglen Police Station should be closed “as a matter of priority” on the basis that it “does no provide a positive or effective policing presence”.
PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne presented the report’s findings and recommendations, alongside the local policing leadership, at a meeting of local community and elected representatives in South Armagh.
Mr Byrne said: “The purpose of this extensive review was to listen to the needs, concerns and priorities of local people in South Armagh in relation to the policing arrangements in their community and to understand their aspirations and ambitions for change.
“Some of these findings make for challenging reading. They reflect that we have not made the progress in South Armagh that we have in other areas and that our approach to policing does not currently reflect the needs and priorities of the local community.
“However, I hope that this review demonstrates that we acknowledge and care that we have not been meeting the standards local people expect of us, we have listened and that we are ready to act on the opportunity for change.
“Working closely with the local policing leadership, the deputy chief constable will oversee implementation of the recommendations and a lot of work is already underway by local officers to make progress against these findings.
“But, this review doesn’t mark the end of our engagement with the local community, rather the beginning. Working together, I am confident we can build on the positive engagement undertaken through this Review to realise our shared ambition for a visible, accessible, responsive and community-focused local police service.”