Campbell still pushing for city ATO presence

DUP MLA Gregory Campbell is continuing to push for the re-establishment of a bomb squad base in Londonderry but both the Justice Minister and the PSNI remain tightlipped on how disproportionately concentrated in the North West recent deployments of 321 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EDO) have been.

Mr Campbell has asked the Justice Minister Mr Ford that “given the continuing number of occasions on which Army Technical Officers are being called to deal with devices in the North West of Northern Ireland, whether he will hold discussions with the Chief Constable on the best way to deal with such incidents?”

Mr Ford said: “EDO support to the PSNI is a matter between the PSNI and the Ministry of Defence. As Justice Minister I am committed to respecting the operational independence of the Chief Constable.

“I do, however, have regular engagement with the Chief Constable and I have been assured that the support which the EOD teams provide to the PSNI is delivered in the most operationally effective way possible.”

Meanwhile, the PSNI says it would cost too much to work out how many requests have been made for assistance from the PSNI to 321 EDO for incidents in the old G District area in the last two years.

“The district has informed us that there have been approximately 7000 incidents recorded over the past two years which may have required the tasking of the 321 disposal unit.

“As it would take approximately two minutes per incident report to determine if the disposal unit had been tasked, it is estimated that it would take approximately 200 hours to locate the requested information which greatly exceeds the legislative time limit of 18 hours,” the PSNI said.