Shock at PSNI Chief Constable retirement as search begins for successor
Policing Board chair Anne Connolly admitted her organisation was caught unawares when Chief Constable George Hamilton announced his decision to retire last week.
"It was genuinely a shock to us that the Chief Constable did not want to take on another three years," she said as the Policing Board met for the first time in two years yesterday.
"We are very quickly moving away from thinking about the temporary posts that are currently there - a deputy and three assistant chief constables - and are now prioritising the Chief Constable position. That will be the first post to be filled."
And Ms Connolly said there are "most definitely" people in senior positions within the PSNI who are eligible to apply.
"There is no dispute about the criteria," she said. "People who apply have to have completed the Strategic Command Course.
"Any officer in any jurisdiction is eligible to do it.
"Another criteria, which was changed by the Minister for Justice in 2014, is that it is 'desirable' for the applicant to have worked in another jurisdiction, that's 'desirable', not 'essential'."
Meanwhile, the Chief Constable said it has been "an immense honour" to serve in the role for the past five years.
George Hamilton will retire at the end of June.
"There have been many challenges but I feel that I've given it my best for five years," he said. "I'm not pretending otherwise, it's been hugely challenging. I just feel it was time for me to think about doing other things.
"Policing is in a better place now than it ever has been. We have confidence at an all-time high, crime at an all-time low, we're more diverse than we've ever been, we have less complaints against us than we've had since records began.
"I feel I've got to the end of my five-year contract and the organisation is in not too bad a place."