PSNI to spend £2m over five years on outsourced dive team

The PSNI is to spend £2m over the next five years to retain an underwater search team.

he police service previously had its own dedicated specialist dive team, which was called upon to help with a range of water-based investigations throughout Northern Ireland.

The dive team was set up in 1981 by the Royal Ulster Constabulary, which was superseded by the PSNI in 2001 as part of the Patten reforms for policing in the North.

However, the in-house underwater search team was shut down in 2006.

Since then, the service has been provided by external companies.

A tender to provide the service for the next five years has just been issued by the PSNI, and the value of the contract is £2.1m.

Since being set up, the majority of cases in which the police dive team are brought in involved missing person cases.

However, in recent years, the team has also been asked to look for lost property and to help search areas around which security concerns have been raised.

In response to the demand for the underwater team, there have been calls for the PSNI to re-establish its own diving unit.

However, a spokesperson for the force said the underwater search team would continue to be provided on an external basis.

“In early 2006, the Police Service of Northern Ireland embarked upon a major review of operational underwater search capabilities.

“After extensive research and widespread consultation with key stakeholders including operational commanders, senior investigating officers and other police services, an options paper was presented to the Chief Constable’s forum on January 15, 2007.

“At this forum it was agreed that the Police Service of Northern Ireland would commence a procurement process, whereby the possibility of supplying diving services by way of a commercial diving team would be explored.”

The PSNI spokesperson added that the current tender was for the continuation of the underwater search service.

“This is not a new service, the Police Service of Northern Ireland already have a contract for such services with an external provider.”

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