Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Chief constable defends PSNI Board

Matt Baggott (centre) at the Policing board meeting in Belfast, where he defended the work of the Policing Board

The Chief Constable has defended the work of the Policing Board in the wake of a damning independent report that criticised his oversight body.

The review found the PSNI's scrutiny panel was slow to take decisions, bureaucratic and was not providing value for its £8.8 million annual budget.

The external audit, commissioned by the board, said the way it is functioning is causing frustration among senior police officers.

Matt Baggott used his address to the board's monthly public meeting to highlight the good work he believed members had done.

"I want to say thank you to the Policing Board," he said. "Whenever any organisation puts itself under scrutiny - as we did last year with our strategic review - being self critical is a very difficult thing to do."

The region's top officer said the board's work with the PSNI in agreeing the Revised Policing Plan strategy and its scrutiny of human rights compliance issues and the police's handling of public order incidents was vital.

In regard to the ongoing terror threat he also singled the organisation out for praise: "I thank you in your support in how we are tackling the security situation and the endorsement of that as well as your scrutiny of that."

Mr Baggott's endorsement came ahead of a crunch private board meeting where the independent consultant who penned the assessment, Ken Reed, outlined his full findings to members.

Mr Reed found the board's "decision-making processes are slow, bureaucratic and not outcome-focused, which is resulting in frustration among members and senior officers of the PSNI". It also said there was a risk of it being overtaken by other bodies - such as Stormont's Justice Committee - if performance did not improve.

Before the Chief Constable's remarks, acting board chairman Brian Rea insisted members remained committed to their task: "We welcome this report and will be working through the findings, many of which are already being taken forward," he said. "But can I assure you Chief Constable that as a board we are completely resolved in our responsibilities - particularly in our accountability and oversight responsibilities for policing."

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