Published Wednesday, 20 March 2013
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G8 security operation
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Leaders of some of the world's most powerful countries will travel to the Lough Erne Golf resort in Fermanagh in just 12 weeks time.
Around 3,500 extra police officers from across the UK have volunteered for duty and, along with hundreds of private security guards, they will assist the PSNI with one of the biggest operations of its kind in the region.
The G8 summit takes place in June this year, and it has a history of attracting protests which can spiral into riot situations, but police are warning that any troublemakers will be dealt with robustly.
"There's going to be a huge number of police officers in the province during that particular time, looking after the safety and security of the summit, of the venue, and in all our major towns," PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay told UTV Live Tonight.
If anyone is out and intent on causing harm, then their opportunities of being stopped in the course of that and being caught, brought to justice, are probably higher than at any other time.
Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay, PSNI
Officers from the PSNI and other forces are undergoing training to ensure they can deal with any situation which may arise during the G8 summit - from sit-down protests involving a handful of people, to full-on riots or any other public order issue.
Security will also be on guard at ports and airports, watching out for known offenders.
"We want to make sure that every officer coming across here has got the confidence that they can deal with everything," PSNI Chief Superintendent Kevin Dunwoody said. "Any suggestion that they've got no training or experience is a complete myth."
"But it's also about learning from a lot of the officers in GB who have dealt with maybe Gleneagles (the 2005 G8 venue) in the past, or dealt with maybe some of the environmental protestors - like in the motorway protest in the south of England."
While the thousands of officers from other police forces have volunteered to travel to Northern Ireland, their unions have expressed concern and questioned the wisdom of the choice of location.
It has been argued that policing is very different in Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK and that there are already enough threats to officers without the addition of the G8 to contend with.
We will stop people who have a history of causing disorder and that's the point where we will intervene and see what powers we can use to keep people safe.
ACC Alistair Finlay
Chief Superintendent Dunwoody insists those tasked with keeping order will be equal to the task.
"No one can guarantee 100% anybody's safety," he added.
"But I'm totally confident that the training and exercises they are given will ensure every officer coming here is safe and will deal with any threat."
The extra officers brought over to Northern Ireland will deal solely with G8-related security and, as is normal for them, will not be armed.
But they will be fully kitted out with bullet-proof body armour.
"The PSNI officers will be armed as normal and key to providing that protection to the group of officers they will be working with during that time," ACC Finlay explained.
A mammoth task lies ahead for all those involved in policing the G8 summit. It is also an operation which will have to be carried out under the full glare of the world's media.