PSNI needs more officers to deal with flag protests, says chief constable

More police officers will inevitably be needed in the North because of the high threat of further serious violence, the chief constable said today.

District staff involved in normal policing duties have been “stripped out” to attend loyalist flag protests, many of which degenerated into conflict, Matt Baggott said.

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in East Belfast was blamed for much of the trouble in that area.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is preparing a report on how many extra members are needed for the 7,000-strong force – half what it was at the height of the troubles.

Police have also been dealing with the severe dissident republican risk, unrest surrounding Loyal Order parades and planning for major events like the UK City of Culture in Derry and World Police and Fire Games in Belfast later this year.

Mr Baggott told a committee of MPs at Westminster: “I do believe that we will need more police officers.

“Looking over the next two to three years and thinking of the last six months, inevitably we will need to have more police officers.”

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