Firm Secures Pounds 4m to 'Police' Courts; 220 Civilian Guards to Replace RUC Officers

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A PRIVATE security firm is being paid around pounds 4 million to ''police'' Northern Ireland's courts in the face of dwindling RUC numbers, the News Letter can reveal.

Over 220 jobs are being created at Maybin Security and Guarding Services to take over security, court administration and jury-keeping duties - jobs until now carried out by police officers.

The move has sparked fears that civilian guards - who have no powers of arrest or detention - will leave courts in a volatile situation.

One source said: ''The whole situation seems to be fraught with danger. What would happen if someone had to be removed from the court; who is going to be able to do it? ''The ramifications could go on for a long time.''

The News Letter revealed a fortnight ago that civilian staff have started to replace police officers in Ulster courts.

A Court Service spokesman confirmed that Maybin had won the contract and full-time staff would be in place by December.

It is understood the move will free up some police officers for other duties at a time when force are being reduced. …