Belfast Telegraph

Experts to monitor process of picking PSNI chief

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton
Mary Lou McDonald
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

Plans to randomly sample notes taken by members of a panel responsible for choosing the next PSNI Chief Constable have been unveiled as the competition for the £207,000 per year job opens today.

Independent recruitment specialists have been drafted in to oversee the process as part of a number of additional measures adopted after Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald expressed no confidence in any PSNI officer replacing George Hamilton.

Her remarks back in February sparked controversy and led to accusations that she was undermining the integrity of the recruitment process.

It also prompted calls for Sinn Fein to be excluded from the selection panel assembled by the Policing Board.

Instead, members agreed to introduce new quality assurance measures to safeguard the process, which include the appointment of a senior occupational psychologist to sit in during the interviews.

The Pertemps Professional Development employee will "dip sample" notes taken by all eight selection panel members and ask them to justify the score they allocate to candidates.

Policing Board chairwoman Anne Connolly said it is seeking an "exceptional leader" to take up the role which comes with significant operational and representative responsibilities.

They must have "an ability to drive and deliver organisational change to meet existing and future" challenges.

"As a board we want our policing service to be representative of the community it serves," she added.

"We welcome applications from all chief officers who believe they possess the range of skills, abilities and capabilities for this key post."

She said applications are particularly welcome from the Catholic community, women and members of black and minority ethnic groups, as they are currently under-represented at senior levels in the PSNI.

Other additional measures include the appointment of an equality and diversity adviser to help ensure that the process is inclusive.

Training for the three independent and five political panel members has been extended from half-a-day to two full days.

Mock interviews will also be conducted to ensure that those responsible for shortlisting candidates on May 14 understand the legislative framework that they are required to work within.

All panel members have signed confidentiality agreements to prevent them publicly discussing the process, which is expected to conclude by the end of next month.

The Policing Board is in the process of writing to around 254 UK officers ranked Assistant Chief Constable or higher who have completed a strategic command course and are eligible to apply.

Up to six Irish Garda officers are eligible to apply.

The successful candidate must be confirmed by Secretary of State Karen Bradley.

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