Close protection training that will keep Cameron and co safe

MOVE MOVE MOVE...Sergeant Chris Walsh training officers in what to do when a travelling car containing a ‘principle’ is attacked

MOVE MOVE MOVE…Sergeant Chris Walsh training officers in what to do when a travelling car containing a ‘principle’ is attacked

CURRENTLY ongoing within the ranks of the PSNI is a national close protection course, equating to around five weeks of training time for officers.

Those trained are expected to be able to deal with the physical side of close protection, but also the planning side and the diplomacy side – a broad spectrum of skills and abilities.


Around 100 officers are trained to this standard, and, included in that figure, are officers who will play a big role in the policing of the G8 summit here in June.

Sergeant Chris Walsh, the course director, speaking at Steeple in Antrim last week, described the aspects of the course, with reference to their relevancy to the G8.

“What we’ve done is we’ve taken a variety of police officers in the PSNI. In four weeks, we teach them all the skills that they need.

That includes the knowledge of roles, the responsibility each person has, and protection skills.

“It also includes the more physical skills – unarmed skills – the protection scenarios, which involved evacuating a principal from an immobilised vehicle and getting them to safety.”

He went on: “In the case of the G8, some of these officers will be working alongside the secret service, or their German counterparts, or their French counterparts – absolutely, these officers will play a very important role in the policing of the G8.”

Currently, close to 100 PSNI officers are trained – and do refresher courses each year – while 12 are currently undergoing the training.


And, he explained: “Protection in the UK is being discreet, being low-key and doing it in accordance with the principal’s wishes. So, the protection officers need to be very mindful of the status of the individual, the reputation of the individual. A protection officer both under-reacting or over-reacting can be very detrimental for the individual.”

And Sergeant Walsh noted that while there hasn’t been an increase in capacity because of the G8 for this particular aspect within the PSNI, officers are being brought over as mutual aid – as close protection officers – from the UK.

Sergeant Walsh also spoke of the role PSNI will have within the G8, with regards to close protection.

“The finer details are still within planning, but, while every visiting Minister or Head of State, will have members of their own protection team, the sole responsibility for their safe arrival, safe movement and safe departure from NI will rest with PSNI officers.

“With the assistance of our colleagues in Great Britain, of course, we’re confident that we can manage,” he concluded.

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