Belfast Telegraph

New Chief Constable needs help from all of us

Editor's Viewpoint

It is not surprising that the vexed topics of flags, emblems, parading, dealing with the past and the continued threat from dissidents are high on the list of challenges facing the new Chief Constable George Hamilton.

Nor is it a surprise that he has described his new role as "hugely challenging". It is one of the most difficult jobs in policing anywhere, but George Hamilton has more than enough local knowledge and experience to help him in his task.

It would be difficult to single out the most important of the current problems because they feed off each other, but certainly one of the most immediate challenges is the start of another marching season.

From past experience the PSNI may well be wary of being once again caught in the middle between the different factions.

However, the appointment of George Hamilton might help to mark a new beginning, and it is encouraging that he has received the support of all the local parties.

This is especially important at a time when serious political fractures are apparent for all to see at the top, and anything which might help to unite the communities around policing is to be welcomed.

The appointment of a new Chief Constable will add impetus to this, and help to bring some common sense into a situation where tensions continually run high.

Recently, for example, Sinn Fein accused the PSNI of "political policing", which in itself was a ridiculous allegation.

It is time for politicians on all sides to calm down and to try to help the police, rather than adding to their burdens.

The new Chief Constable has also emphasized rightly that the police cannot do it all on their own, and they need the help not only of all the politicians but also from people of all backgounds.

George Hamilton will be helped by a new police recruitment drive, and the dangers we all face was highlighted by the senseless firebomb attack recently in a Londonderry Hotel.

The Chief Constable faces a tough task, and he needs help from all of us.

We wish him well.

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