Security Branch sat in on COC meeting

AN inspector from PSNI Security Branch and the force’s Head of Crime sat in on a meeting to discuss Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 prior to the establishment of a special police planning team to co-ordinate its approach to the year, the Sentinel can reveal.

The PSNI formed a Londonderry UK City of Culture planning team comprising a Chief Inspector, an Inspector and two Constables to work closely with the Culture Company and build relationships with Ilex and Derry City Council.

The PSNI said no meetings were held between the force and local stakeholders prior to the announcement of Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 but a number of meetings were held after the announcement and prior to the formation of the City of Culture Planning Team.

Two meetings were held between District Commander Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin and City of Culture Company Chief, Shona McCarthy in August 2011 and September 2011.

And another meeting between the PSNI and the Culture Company in October 2011 was attended by a range of personnel including an “Inspector, Security Branch” and “Head of Crime.”

A spokesperson for the police told the Sentinel: “PSNI Security Branch can provide services of protective security advice.”

Part of Security Branch’s role is to detemine the risk or threat to various individuals from terrorists or paramilitaries, for example, and assess their fitness for personal protection plans.

According to the Rosemary Nelson report published in 2011 ‘RUC Security Branch’ was responsible for carrying out risk assessments of a number of Sinn Féin councillors at the height of the Drumcree dispute.

The report found it surprising that Security Branch did not find “‘general intelligence, circumstances and/or recent events’ to indicate that they were under ‘a significant threat.’”

According to a statement released by the force in response to a recent Freedom of Information request the new planning team “has been set up to work within appropriate structures, work closely with the Culture Company and build relationships with key partners including Ilex and Derry City Council.

“This is vital as we deal with lead-in events taking place during 2012, plan for the headline events during 2013 and ensure a smooth exit strategy during 2014.”

The planning team will give advice in relation to security, public safety and human rights.

The Chief Inspector will act as the team leader and “set the strategy for planning for the year and promote community confidence in the PSNI, build partnerships with all stakeholders and assist in the delivery of successful events.”

Amongst the Chief Inspector’s responsibilities will be to “provide the single informed point of contact for other PSNI departments, dealing with any

matters which may affect the UK City of Culture 2013.”

The Inspector on the team will advise partners on specific event planning and safety issues, sit on a Safety Advisory Group (SAG) and prepare operational orders and deployment for larger scale events.

The Constables on the team will develop templates for the main venues; help prepare operational orders and deployments for events; prepare individual risk assessments for each event; and sit on a transport sub-group.

At the meeting between PSNI and the Culture Company in October 2011 the following personnel were in attendance: Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin - District Commander; Superintendent Chris Yates - Operations Manager; Superintendent Stephen Cargin - Service Delivery; Chief Inspector Andy Lemon - Operations Chief; Chief Inspector Gary Eaton - Area Commander, Foyle; PSNI Media Officer; Inspector Alec Penney - Operations Inspector; Inspector Barry Pollin - Response Inspector, Foyle; Sergeant Gerry McLaughlin - Operations Sergeant; Staff Officer, G District; Inspector, Security Branch; Head of Crime