Video: ‘Tempo of attacks of huge concern’ says Chief Constable Simon Byrne
Simon Byrne says the tempo of attacks from republicans has been of ‘huge concern’ but it’s too soon to say if it is linked to Brexit.
The PSNI Chief Constable said his officers will monitor sentiment in republican and loyalist areas. But he is worried he does not have enough officers to deal with serious public disorder if it arises post-Brexit.
“The threat posed by dissident republicans cannot always be seen in isolation because of the pressure it puts on investigative resource, which could be directed towards this issue as well,” he told the NI Affairs Committee.
“We have had nine attacks this year, of varying degrees but all with a clear objective of killing or maiming our officers. That is clearly a huge concern, and we see no sense of the tempo changing. There are often questions about whether that is linked to a Brexit situation. I think it is too early to say - in case we go there a bit later - but, clearly, we need to keep our minds open to any change in the stance around the border,” he added.
He said the PSNI would review community attitudes.
“We have an ACC who is now our gold commander—our person in charge of the policing response to the Brexit situation. We would monitor community sentiment, in both the loyalist community and the republican community, depending on the nature of any deal or, indeed, no deal.”
But it is difficult to plan for.
“We can only predict based on history. Obviously, as history itself tells us, that is not always the best course, but we can speculate about changes to the dissident republican threat in one scenario, or changes to sentiment, particularly in working-class loyalist communities, who history tells us can mobilise very quickly, in another scenario. We have to plan for that.
“Frankly, given the headcount we have at the moment, which, even with Brexit uplift, is 6,800, I am worried that if there is a significant change in patterns of crime, patterns of public disorder, we do not, long term, have enough police officers to deal with that.”