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Home Sec: British rings to be tightened against intrusion

The 39 Plods, by Jacqui Smith

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Home Secretary Jacqui Smith yesterday announced the hiring of 39 new policemen for border-protection duties.

"With this crucial police support, alongside tougher checks at our border, and the approaching roll out of ID cards for foreign nationals, there will be a triple ring of security around Britain," Smith said.

According to the Home Office there are already 3,000 coppers "permanently based at our borders", indicating that today's announcement will deliver almost 1.33 per cent extra tightness to the nation's ring. The whole border-police force thus contains approximately 1 in every 50 of the UK's 157,000 plods.

Ms Smith also said the chief constable of Essex would be on the board of the proposed new UK Border Agency, which may deploy operatives with enhanced, police-like powers in addition to actual coppers. There will also be framework documents and guidelines regarding police/Border Agency cooperation, and - of course - new laws.

The Reg contacted the Home Office about the ring-tightening Smith statement, however, and spokespersons there confirmed that the 39 new Special Branch posts were the only actual concrete measures "that we're announcing today".

Special Branch officers are traditionally employed in police intelligence operations, such as the recent controversial taping of conversations between inmates and visitors at prisons.®

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