George Hamilton lands job as £195k per year PSNI chief
The PSNI will be led by an officer from Northern Ireland for the first time in 12 years after George Hamilton was appointed the force's next Chief Constable.
Current Assistant Chief Constable Mr Hamilton – who had been firm favourite for the post – will take over the £195,000-per-year job later this year.
The father-of-four from Bangor, Co Down, was selected ahead of Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick and Garda Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne.
Chairwoman of the Policing Board Anne Connolly confirmed the appointment shortly after 5pm yesterday. "ACC Hamilton brings wide-ranging experience to this important job and has the necessary skills to lead the PSNI forward," she said.
"As a board, we are looking forward to working closely with the new Chief Constable in dealing with the issues facing policing and agreeing a programme of work that supports community confidence in policing."
Mr Hamilton has been a police officer for almost three decades, joining the RUC in 1985.
He is the first person from Northern Ireland to lead the force since Ronnie Flanagan stepped down in 2002.
The three candidates underwent hour-long interviews yesterday in front of a panel of nine Policing Board members.
Interviews began at 10.30am yesterday with the questions finalised just before the sessions to prevent them being leaked.
Each candidate was scored by every member of the interview panel, with Mr Hamilton attaining the highest marks of the three hopefuls. Ms Connolly then contacted Justice Minister David Ford who formally approved the appointment.
Mr Ford, who is currently in New York, said the Chief Constable job was one of the most challenging in the UK.
"George will bring a wealth of leadership experience to the PSNI to shape policing in Northern Ireland over the rest of the decade," said Mr Ford.
"I wish to pay tribute to Matt Baggott for his leadership in delivering personal, professional and protective policing to our community, sometimes in the face of extreme adversity. I look forward to working with George and his team to continue to build a safer Northern Ireland with a police service that has the confidence of the entire community."
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers congratulated Mr Hamilton and said the job brought unique challenges.
"Like all police forces it must deliver the best policing service possible at a time of unprecedented pressure on public finances," she said.
"But the PSNI and its officers also face sensitivities, dangers and public order situations that make the challenge unique in the UK.
"This is a time for strong leadership and I am confident that George Hamilton will provide this. As a government we remain committed to ensuring that the Chief Constable has the support he needs to keep the community safe.
"The significant extra funding of £231m that this government will provide between 2011 and 2016 is playing a vital role in helping the PSNI to tackle the terrorist threat."
One of those who sat on the interview panel, DUP MLA Jonathan Craig, said: "He has a long history of service here in Northern Ireland and knows the intricacies and complexity of issues facing policing here."
He added: "I look forward to working with him and wish him all the best in a role which will obviously be very demanding, but which I know he will carry out with enthusiasm and the utmost professionalism."
Mr Baggott is due to retire at the end of August after five years in charge of the force.
Mr Hamilton had been the favourite for the job since Mr Baggott announced his departure last January.
His appointment comes on the eve of the marching season, which last year saw some of the worst street violence of recent years.
Last year almost 850 officers were injured in rioting linked to disputes over flags and parades.
The threat from dissident republican terror groups also remains severe.
Story so far
George Hamilton has been appointed as the next Chief Constable of the PSNI. The current Assistant Chief Constable will replace outgoing Matt Baggott in the £195,000 per year post.