In a Sunday Times interview, George Hamilton, chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), raised alarm bells Saturday over mounting concerns over post-Brexit border security. Hamilton stated that he was not getting the information and clarity he needed.
"There's a feeling that as regards the Troubles and the conflict, Northern Ireland is sorted and we don't need to worry about it, when actually we're working flat out 24/7 to keep a lid on it."
"Clearly having a vacuum of political leadership… adds to the general instability in a volatile post-conflict society," he lamented. "That's not a good thing."
Hamilton stated that it would be preferable to have a fully functional government with a program that could ease public fears rather than perpetuating "tension and nervousness."
He added that checkpoints and border controls would become less relevant because they would "move away from issues of trade or movement of people to old-fashioned security on a national frontier," noting that such policies were implemented during the Troubles "rather unsuccessfully".
— The Sunday Times (@thesundaytimes) September 9, 2018
The PSNI has demanded Westminster to increase resources to prepare Brexit contingencies for about a year. When asked how he felt about Brexit consequences, Hamilton replied, "I have a concern some may see issues to do with the Irish border as literally peripheral, not just geographically but in terms of impact."
The PSNI says it wants over 400 extra officers, with 100 by the end of March, and additional equipment. Its 310-mile border remains highly vulnerable to smugglers and paramilitary groups.
The Sunday Times also leaked a National Police Coordination Centre document set to be discussed next week at a National Police Chief's Council's meeting. The document stated that police chiefs were drawing up continencies to tackle "wide spread civil disorder" along its borders, warning of the "necessity to call on military assistance is a real possibility".
EU and British officials have been deadlocked in talks regarding Ireland and Northern Ireland. Many speculate that a ‘hard Brexit' will create a hard border between the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, and Northern Ireland of the United Kingdom, with the 1998 Good Friday agreement potentially at stake.
"We are determined to reach a solution that protects the Belfast Agreement and avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland," Brexit secretary of state Dominic Raab told parliamentarians at a September 4 House of Commons Brexit hearing. "We will not permit a customs border down the Irish Sea, which will put at risk the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom."