Probation officers and staff have been warned by the Police Service of Northern Ireland they are under an increased threat from dissident republican terrorists.

The PSNI contacted the Probation Board to advise that the threat level against some members has been raised, particularly in republican areas.

Board chiefs have briefed its 400 members of staff about the threat.

Security advice has been provided to all staff and the PSNI is to provide personal security at some sites.

The Probation Board of Northern Ireland (PBNI) confirmed they were advised about the risk yesterday. The organisation said the increase in risk does not apply uniformly across PBNI and attacks against the majority of staff and premises remain unlikely.

Those living in, and premises located near, republican areas are thought to be at greater risk.

PBNI said it has been working closely over the last 24 hours with the justice department and police.

PBNI chief executive Cheryl Lamont said work will continue despite the threat.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said: "I utterly condemn any threat of violence in Northern Ireland toward any individual or organisation as they go about their daily work.

"The Probation Board for Northern Ireland provides a service and support to all members of the community in Northern Ireland. They also work closely with the Probation Service of Ireland.

"These sorts of threats have no place and no support on the island of Ireland today," he added.