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Northern Ireland police chief Hamilton 'guided by God'

By Staff Reporter

Chief Constable George Hamilton has revealed how his Christianity lies at the heart of how he polices Northern Ireland.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Irish Catholic, the 49-year-old top cop said he felt that having faith and policing were "not in any way inconsistent".

"I think that they are mutually supportive so people can have a faith and with that faith they very often bring these values, or personal anchor points, that tend to coalesce around with what makes good police work," he told interviewer Martin O'Brien.

The Chief Constable added that he was deeply influenced by Old Testament prophet Micah, whose words had inspired him in his own policing and human journey

"There is a passage of Scripture from Micah (6.8) which talks about what God requires of us, and it says to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly and if you can do that, justice, mercy, have some compassion, and a bit of humility those are three things that make a pretty good cop in my experience," he said.

"You don't even need to be Christian to have those things, what I am saying is I can see a lot of coalescing between some of those Christian anchor points and good policing."

The interview touches on a litany of issues facing him.

The Chief Constable admitted he was in a "dilemma" over attending Martin McGuinness's funeral, but decided that it was "appropriate" to do so.

Mr Hamilton said: "I suppose like many people my emotions regarding him and the attendance at his funeral was a little bit of a dilemma. My values and emotions were being pulled in opposite directions and I just had a fundamental decision to make about whether or not I believed it was the right thing to do to go."

Northern Ireland's top police officer also said there was work to be done by both the PSNI and politicians to change the attitude among the Catholic community towards pursuing career in the force.

He added: "There also hasn't been the strength of advocacy for a career in policing that I would have hoped for, this far into the new police organisation. I have said before publicly I do not question the bona fides of Sinn Fein as the largest nationalist/republican party in terms of their commitment to the peace process, and part of that being support for policing.

"It is almost support for policing, rather than the very specific support for a career in policing, for Catholic and nationalist young people. They need to get themselves to that point". He said it could take a "generational change", and while he strongly supported 50/50 recruitment in the past, he did not support its reintroduction.

The 50/50 recruitment policy operated from 2001 to 2011 and helped to increase the number of Catholic officers from 8% to 31%.

Recent recruitment drives have struggled to attract Catholics, despite advertising campaigns targeted specifically at the nationalist/republican community.

"We want to be inclusive, not just because that is the right thing to do," Mr Hamilton said.

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