Belfast Telegraph

Baggott knighted for PSNI work

The former chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland has been made a knight for leading the force as it fought terrorism, and policing and justice powers were devolved to the region.

Sir Matt Baggott, 56, who retired from the job in September after five years at the helm, is one of four officers from the force to be honoured by the Queen.

Speaking about his knighthood, the father-of-two said he could not have done the job without the police men and women serving in the ranks.

"This award is an acknowledgement of the courage, commitment and achievements of my policing colleagues without whose immense efforts I would not have been able to fulfil my responsibilities," Sir Matt said.

"I have been truly fortunate to work with such great people. I also want to thank my family and friends for their constant support and encouragement.

"It has been in particular a God-given privilege to serve in Northern Ireland and the continuing journey to peace will remain in my thoughts and prayers."

Sir Matt was one of four New Year Honours awarded for policing in Northern Ireland.

Three Queen's Police Medals (QPM) have been awarded to serving PSNI officers - Detective Inspector Stephen Wilson and Sergeant Simon McNee, who both work in Belfast, and Sergeant Thomas Stevenson who works in North Down.

Mr Wilson - 29 years in the force - specialises in investigating serious sexual offences. The PSNI said his work has been instrumental in delivering the highest level of investigative practice and an increase in the detection rate for rape and serious sexual assaults.

Mr McNee - with the same length of service - has been a key figure in organising policing for numerous large-scale national and international events including the Olympic torch relay in 2012, the Giro d'Italia, the G8 summit and the World Police and Fire Games.

Mr Stevenson, who has been in front-line policing for more than 30 years, was said to have consistently shown extraordinary drive and determination. Many times he was said to have gone the extra mile, regularly putting the needs of both colleagues and the public high above his own.

Sir Matt, who took over at the head of the PSNI in 2009, had been awarded a CBE the year before and prior to that - in 2004 - a QPM.

He served 20 years with the Metropolitan Police and, along with a number of senior positions in West Midlands Police, he also held the role of chief constable of Leicestershire.

Sir Matt's move to Northern Ireland came at a crucial time when the devolution of policing and justice powers was being introduced.

Some of his major duties involved introducing significant measures to enhance the overall operational effectiveness of the force under a severe terrorist threat from dissident republicans.

Major policing events during his tenure included the G8 summit in Enniskillen, the World Police and Fire Games, the UK City of Culture in Derry/Londonderry, the Olympic torch relay and Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Over the course of his five years the PSNI said confidence levels in policing rose to their highest ever as he implemented a vision of personal policing in the force.

Sir Matt is a former vice-president of the Association of Chief Police Officers and the National Association of Police Chaplains, he remains president of the Christian Police Association.

He has also in his own time been involved in a number of charities including as a trustee of International Needs, a worldwide Christian mission and development agency.

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