T1. Mr Rogers asked the Minister of Justice what discussions he has had with his counterpart in Dublin to address the policy and legislative concerns raised by the Chief Constable of the PSNI following the welcome before Christmas that he and the Garda Commissioner gave to the idea of closer cross-border cooperation. (AQT 3521/11-16)
I thank Mr Rogers for that question. I frequently discuss with the Irish Justice Minister— I think probably at every meeting I have with her — the issues of operational support for the two police services. I know that there had been discussions ongoing very recently between officials about the refresh to the cross-border policing strategy, which I hope to be able to launch within the next few weeks, subject to timing arrangements at this stage largely because of the elections to Dáil Éireann. I believe that good work has been done on that, but it is important that we get the public statement of the relaunch of that strategy.
Mr Rogers is now taking me into the direct responsibilities of the operational cross-border group. Members will be aware of the very significant amount of work that has been done in support of trailer marking and a variety of issues relating to Farmwatch and so on. I hope that, in the next few days, we will see a further announcement on the good work being done.
Most of that has been led by individual PSCPs as they look to see what their local needs are. The precise issue of the operational cross-border arrangements rests with the two leading police officers, although Members will also be aware that a number of other bodies, such as the DARD veterinary service, have been suggested for inclusion in the operational subgroup to ensure that we get not just the policing services and the key agencies but some agencies that have not always appeared on the criminal justice list involved in ensuring that we tackle the variety of different crimes that operate on a cross-border basis.