International forces expected to train at Desertcreat

INTERNATIONAL police forces have already expressed interest in using the new public services college near Cookstown which has just been allocated funding.

Last week the Mid Ulster Mail exclusively revealed that the Department of Finance had approved the business case for the £140m college which will be based at Desertcreat.

The 250-acre site is to become operational in 2015 and it will be used to train police, prison officers and firefighters.

The project, which was first announced in 2004 and was originally due to be finished in 2008 has been plagued by a series of delays. The cost envisaged at the time was £80m.

A full planning application will be lodged within six months and a tendering process launched.

Work is due to start on the green field site in 2013.

Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie said the gardai and FBI had also expressed interest in the facility.

“It will bring new people into Northern Ireland and new trade into the Northern Ireland economy. I believe it will be a world leading facility,” she added.

Justice Minister David Ford said: “This is an important milestone for everyone associated with the Desertcreat project and one which brings closer the building of an integrated public services training college with world class facilities.

“Our police officers, prison officers and firefighters put their lives on the line for people across Northern Ireland day and daily and they deserve training facilities of the highest quality.

“Desertcreat will deliver this.”

Public Safety Minister Edwin Poots said: “This is excellent news and means we can now seek full planning permission and move another step closer to having state of the art, integrated training facilities for our emergency service personnel.

“By integrating and sharing facilities, it is hoped that Desertcreat College will develop best practice in training, technology, sustainability and ecology, so that the college will become recognised as a world class partnership training environment.”

Health Minister Edwin Poots said the hope is that the college will become recognised further afield than Northern Ireland.

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland has welcomed the implementation, of what they say, was “one of their core recommendations to Patten.”

“We congratulate our PSNI Command team for the quality of the business case that they put to the Executive and the Executive for recognising that professional policing needs to be supported by equally professional facilities.”