Riot-trained police from Norfolk are among the hundreds of mainland officers sent to help quell the violence in Northern Ireland.

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Around 600 officers, also including some from Essex and Suffolk, have been drafted in to bolster their Irish colleagues during the parade season and the resulting protests.

Lisa Miller, a spokeswoman for Suffolk police, confirmed the force had sent a presence across the Irish Sea.

Mrs Miller said: “We can confirm that Suffolk Constabulary officers are supporting their colleagues in Northern Ireland to assist with the current problems there.”

The constabulary said it would not be revealing the numbers due to operational reasons.

However, it is understood those involved are from police support units (PSU), who are trained to deal with major public disorder.

A PSU is normally made up of 22 officers – 18 constables, three sergeants and an inspector.

Spokeswomen for both Norfolk and Essex Constabulary have said their forces are also helping out.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has stated the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) requested mutual aid support in order to deliver an extensive policing operation.

An ACPO spokeswoman said: “We anticipate that an additional 30 public order units will travel to Northern Ireland, equating to about 600 police officers.

“These represent an additional resource for PSNI without in any way compromising capacity of police forces on the mainland to respond to events.”

The riots first flared on Friday night in Woodvale when Orangemen were prevented from marching through the nearby republican/nationalist Ardoyne.

To date there have been more than 60 arrests and in excess of 70 police officers have been hurt.

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