Garda-PSNI co-operation ‘has saved lives’, Minister says

North and South law enforcement agencies gather at conference on cross-Border crime

Co-operation between the Garda and the PSNI "has undoubtedly saved lives", the North's Minister of Justice, Claire Sugden, has said.

Ms Sugden was speaking at the annual Cross-Border Organised Crime conference, which brings together law enforcement agencies from the North and South.

This year's event took place at the Lough Erne Resort hotel near Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.

At the conference, Ms Sugden and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald welcomed the publication of an updated cross-Border policing strategy, which aims to further enhance co-operation between the PSNI and the Garda.

The strategy, which was launched at the conference by PSNI chief constable George Hamilton and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan, will act as the "over-arching delivery strategy" for the work of the new cross-jurisdictional Joint Agency Task Force, which was set up after last November's Fresh Start Agreement for Stormont.

"Cross-Border co-operation is clearly vital, and I am very grateful to the PSNI and An Garda Síochána for their combined efforts in tackling criminal activity in both jurisdictions," said Ms Sugden.

“This joint working has undoubtedly saved lives, prevented crime and enabled the detection of criminals who would seek to bring misery to communities on both sides of the Border.

“This strategy underlines the continuing practical and strategic co-operation that exists between the two police services, and it will further cement the excellent working relationships that have proved so effective,” said Ms Sugden.

Government priority

Ms Fitzgerald said North-South co-operation in policing and criminal justice was a priority for the Government.

“The levels of co-operation between the law enforcement agencies in both jurisdictions are already outstanding, but will continue to be further enhanced,” she said.

“We experience the same tasks in both parts of the island with regard to combating crime, managing offenders and supporting victims, and it is entirely logical for us to collaborate on developing solutions to address our common challenges,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

Ms O’Sullivan said both the Garda and the PSNI were placing a strong emphasis on disrupting and tackling the activity of organised crime gangs working along the Border.

She said both police forces “have extensive and rich experience and knowledge and by combining that expertise and know-how, along with our other partner agencies, we will make our services stronger, which in turn will help to keep communities safe in all parts of this island”.

Mr Hamilton praised the “depth of the trust and co-operation” between the PSNI and Garda.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times