Belfast Telegraph

Lying empty, the £600k taxpayer-funded home for PSNI Chief Constable

By Deborah McAleese

A luxury home purchased by the Policing Board for the PSNI's Chief Constable has been lying empty for almost 10 months.

Demands have now been made for the house, situated in north Down, to be sold off and the cash injected into front line services.

The property was bought by the cash-strapped body for £600,000 in 2004.

Since then more than £100,000 has been paid out to upgrade and repair it.

Sir Hugh Orde and Sir Matt Baggott both lived there rent-free during their tenures as Chief Constable.

However, as current Chief Constable George Hamilton was already resident in Northern Ireland when he took up the post, he decided to remain in his family home.

Although the taxpayer-owned house has been lying vacant since August, the Policing Board has yet to make a decision on what to do with it.

The Policing Board said it was currently discussing the future of the property with the PSNI.

A spokeswoman for the Policing Board added: "The board, as the owner of the property, will then decide whether to retain or dispose of the property in accordance with the agreed disposal of public sector procedures."

However, DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt criticised the policing body for leaving an expensive asset to "languish".

"It is a complete nonsense. The Policing Board and the PSNI can't cry about having no money and on the other hand do nothing about disposing of this vacant property," the former Policing Board member said.

He added: "This house is in a prime site. It would fetch some very welcome funds for policing instead of lying empty. There is no excuse for not having tried to dispose of this several months ago."

Since the property became part of the police estate, repairs and refurbishments costing around £100,000 have been carried out.

More than £30,000 was spent on a new kitchen. The house has also been repainted several times and carpets and curtains replaced.

Rates for the property in the highly sought-after area are also picked up by the Policing Board.

Mr Spratt said the property was just one of a number of sites that could be disposed off.

"Look at the size of Castlereagh, Lisnasharragh, Knocknagoney and Ladas Drive stations for example - that's what was needed when you had over 13,000 officers. Now we have just over 6,000 officers, so a lot of this property is no longer needed by the PSNI.

"We are constantly being told there is no money available for this or that. Well, I would suggest to the Policing Board, stop holding onto vacant properties then."

Savage cuts to the policing budget have led to a freeze on recruitment and reduced officer numbers.


The Policing Board purchased a house from the NIO in 2004 for £600,000.

The house was made part of the police estate to be used as rent-free living accommodation for the PSNI Chief Constable.

More than £100,000 has been spent refurbishing and maintaining the property since then.

The current Chief Constable George Hamilton opted to remain in his family home and the property has been vacant for 10 months.

Belfast Telegraph


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