BBC News

G8: Courts 'can deal with 260 protest arrests a day'

By Vincent Kearney
BBC NI home affairs correspondent

media captionThe temporary cells where people will be held over the G8

The police, prisons and courts in Northern Ireland have plans in place to deal with up to 260 arrests a day, if needed, during the G8 summit.

A temporary custody centre has been built on the site of a former army base in Omagh.

Its six cell blocks are each capable of holding 16 people.

The G8 summit will take place at the Lough Erne golf resort in County Fermanagh on 17 and 18 June.

Anyone arrested during protests at, or near the resort, will be taken to the Omagh centre to be questioned and held before going to court.

Across Northern Ireland, there is capacity to cope with many more arrests, if needed.

'Quick process'

"In a worst case scenario we could process up to 260 detained persons at any one time," said Supt Paula Hilman.

"But I would emphasise that is the worst case scenario, and those plans can be scaled back or scaled up depending on what is happening operationally on the ground over the G8 period."

The temporary custody centre, and two others at police stations in Belfast, will have staff from the Public Prosecution Service on site working alongside PSNI officers to prepare court papers.

Doctors and interpreters will also be available.

image captionThe Lough Erne resort will be cordoned off while world leaders hold the G8 economic summit

"The aim is to make the process as quick as possible," said Supt Hilman.

"We will be able to have a detained person processed, interviewed if required, charged, and appear before the court in a very short time, in a matter of hours."

Sixteen judges have been put on standby to preside over special court sittings in Belfast, Dungannon and Antrim.

If required, the courts will operate from 09:00 to 21:00 BST from Saturday until Wednesday.

Twenty extra prison vans have been brought in from England to take protesters from custody centres to court, and then to prison if they are remanded in custody to wait for trial.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that schools and council property in Enniskillen will be protected by private security guards amid concerns that playing fields may be used as campsites by protesters during the summit.

The police expect some protesters will remain at the fence around the Lough Erne resort overnight during the summit.

The roads service has also put plans in place in case trees are cut down to block roads.

More on this story

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