Belfast Telegraph

Public services watchdog set to become new Police Ombudsman

Secretary of State Karen Bradley announced her recommendation on Friday in the absence of devolved government in the region.

Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman Marie Anderson (Nipso/PA)
Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman Marie Anderson (Nipso/PA)

The public services watchdog is set to become the new Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

Secretary of State Karen Bradley announced her recommendation of Marie Anderson on Friday, in the absence of devolved government in the region.

Dr Michael Maguire’s seven-year term in the role is due to end in July.

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Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire (Paul Faith/PA)

The post would normally be appointed by the Northern Ireland Executive, however Stormont has been collapsed since January 2017 following a break down in relations between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

Fresh talks aimed at resolving the impasse are due to start next week.

Ms Bradley said in the absence of the Executive, it is her responsibility to “ensure stable public services”.

“My absolute priority is to see the restoration of the Executive at the earliest opportunity,” she said.

“In the interim, my responsibility is to ensure good governance and stable public services in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland.

“In the absence of an Executive, it is vital that we ensure stability and continuity for this important public appointment.

“My intention is to recommend the appointment of Marie Anderson to the role of Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.”

The role of the Police Ombudsman comes with a salary of £134,841 and leads a staff of over 150 handling complaints against the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Mrs Anderson has been Northern Ireland’s Public Services Ombudsman since 2016.

Her appointment as Police Ombudsman is subject to the completion of the formalities of the appointment process.

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PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton (Liam McBurney/PA)

PSNI Chief George Hamilton has welcomed Mrs Anderson’s appointed and said his service will engage positively with her office.

He added: “I welcome the appointment of Marie Anderson who brings a wealth of experience to the role.

“I recognise the importance of the role of the office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and the public confidence that the independent investigation of complaints against police carried out by the office can bring.

“It is an essential part of the mechanisms by which the PSNI can be held to account and I am confident PSNI will engage positively with the new Police Ombudsman in the future.”

PA

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