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The public security and policing tactic known as Project Servator is being trialled by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
It’s regularly featured in Professional Security magazine since spring 2013 when Servator was originally introduced by City of London Police. The policing tactic has since been adopted by 16 police forces, including at airports; train stations by British Transport Police (BTP, pictured, Kings Cross, London); the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games; nuclear power stations by the Civil Nuclear Constabulary; and at shopping centres, as by Essex Police at the Lakeside Shopping Centre, featured in the magazine in 2017.
While Servator seeks to disrupt ‘hostile reconnaissance’, most pressingly by those thinking of carrying out acts of terror, the method works equally to deter any other ‘hostiles’; criminals such as pick-pockets or shoplifters. Hence Servators has resulted in hundreds of pieces of intelligence being gathered and arrests for various offences, including firearms and weapons offences, drugs, money laundering, robbery and theft. It has also been used at major events, including Wimbledon Tennis Championships, music festivals and at Christmas markets.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: “Project Servator aims to disrupt a range of criminal activity, including terrorism, while providing a reassuring presence for members of the public. Officers have been specially trained to spot the tell-tale signs that someone is gathering information to help them plan or prepare to commit a crime.
“Project Servator patrols are highly visible and can happen at any time and in any location. They are characterised by the use of a range of policing assets – dogs, vehicles, plain clothes – in an unpredictable way. If you see Project Servator officers in your area, I can assure you there is nothing to worry about. They are normal police deployments and are not in response to any specific threat.
“We are working closely with our partners, including other police forces, security staff and CCTV operators, local businesses and retailers and members of the public, to continue to keep people safe in Northern Ireland and protect everyone who lives, works or visits here and make it a difficult place for criminals and terrorists to operate. Our initial trial includes deployments across our bus and rail stations in Belfast and we have been liaising closely with Translink in planning these deployments to help keep people safe.”
At Translink, the public transport body for Northern Ireland, Head of Rail Customer Services, Hilton Parr, said: “The safety of our passengers and staff is our top priority. We work closely with the PSNI and we are pleased to be trialling Project Servator at our bus and train stations, which provides a great opportunity to highlight the importance of members of the public being vigilant at all times.”