Northern Ireland

PSNI chief constable: ‘Our Covid-19 plans are robust’

Simon Byrne Image copyright Colm Lenaghan /Pacemaker Press

The PSNI chief constable has said he is confident the force’s plans to protect the public during the Covid-19 pandemic are “robust”.

Simon Byrne spoke to the media at Stormont’s daily briefing on Thursday.

In terms of enforcement of social distancing he said: "Discretion and common sense remain at the heart of policing.”

Officers will we will be adopting ”a four-point approach to use new [executive] powers,” he said.

“So, patrolling officers will be told to engage with the public, to explain what the new powers are, to encourage people to adopt them and to go home, or to stop their work.

"But equally, if we have to, we will enforce the law once the new powers are with us.”

He said the Police Service of Northern Ireland is ”working at pace and around the clock to make sure that we are fleet of foot enough to respond to the unique challenges of this situation and to continue to provide a policing service to residents across the country”.

He added that, just a few hours before the press conference, he joined local officers on a specialist support team who are trained to respond to incidents involving members of the public who are infected with the virus or presenting with symptoms.

Paying tribute to them, he said: "I’ve been very proud by what I’ve seen so far, by the enthusiasm, energy and commitment of officers, part-time, staff and reserve.”