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'The threat is changing': PSNI chief calls for extra 800 officers to help combat threat of dissidents

A viable explosive device was discovered on Monday evening in the Creggan area of Derry.

PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne
PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne
Image: David Young/PA Images

THE CHIEF CONSTABLE of the PSNI has said there have been more attempts to kill officers in the few months since he took the job than there were in the previous 12 months, as he called for an extra 800 officers to be allocated to the police force.

Speaking on a visit to Derry this afternoon, chief constable Simon Byrne said the PSNI needs to grow to 7,500 officers to “push more police officers to work with communities to get more information to deal not only with day-to-day crime but also continue the fight against paramilitaries”. 

“[It is] a small number of people coercing others to carry out attacks against police,” he said.

We can’t keep working at the pace we have done this summer, dealing with a rise in this type of attack as well as day-to-day policing issues… The threat is changing.

He was speaking after a viable explosive device was discovered on Monday evening in the Creggan area of the city, with dissident group the New IRA believed to be responsible. 

The bomb was found during a PSNI investigation in the area. Police came under attack from petrol bombs last night during the search operation. 

The PSNI said the bomb was an attempt to kill police officers.

Separately, officers also arrested a man in connection with the discovery of a bomb outside homes in an estate in Co Tyrone. Police believe the New IRA intended to fire the mortar into Strabane police station from Church View. 

Byrne said he had dealt with more potential attempts to kill PSNI officers in the few months he’s been at the helm, than his predecessor did in the last year.

While he said the attacks were “clearly aimed” at killing police officers, they are also “indiscriminate”.

“Potentially a member of the public, a passing family member, could be killed,” he said. “I’ve little doubt had it detonated, people would have been killed.”

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Sean Murray

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