Belfast Telegraph

Woman who acts as watchdog for Northern Ireland's public services to be new Police Ombudsman

Marie Anderson will give up her post as Public Services Ombudsman
Marie Anderson will give up her post as Public Services Ombudsman

By Staff Reporter

Public Services Ombudsman Marie Anderson is set to become the next Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

While there are still some formalities to be gone though around the appointment, Secretary of State Karen Bradley announced yesterday that she intended to recommend the appointment of Marie Anderson to the £134,000 post.

Mrs Anderson is currently Northern Ireland's Public Services Ombudsman, where she has been in post since April 1, 2016.

She will step down from this position on taking up office as Police Ombudsman.

She also holds two other statutory offices - Northern Ireland Local Government Commissioner for Standards and Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Ombudsman.

She has previously held a number of other high-profile public service positions including the Deputy Northern Ireland Ombudsman and the Assistant Information Commissioner for Northern Ireland.

Announcing her recommendation for the Police Ombudsman post, the Secretary of State said yesterday: "My absolute priority is to see the restoration of the Executive at the earliest opportunity.

"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."

In the absence of a functioning Stormont Assembly and Executive, the Secretary of State has the power to make recommendations for appointments to public offices in Northern Ireland under a special power approved by Parliament last year.

Mrs Anderson will be the fourth holder of the post of Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland since the body was established under Nuala O'Loan (now Baroness O'Loan) in 2000.

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman's office told the Belfast Telegraph last night: "We welcome this appointment, and look forward to working alongside Marie when she takes up her appointment in July."

The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland is responsible for the investigation of complaints against the police and for the investigation of a range of other matters referred by the Department of Justice, the Policing Board and the Chief Constable. The term of appointment for the Police Ombudsman is seven years and is not renewable.

The outgoing Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, was appointed in 2012 and his seven-year tenure will be completed this July.

The Office of the Police Ombudsman currently has a staff of over 150.

Its current budget is just over £9m per annum.

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton said he looked forward to engaging positively with the new Ombudsman.

"I welcome the appointment of Marie Anderson who brings a wealth of experience to the role," he said.

"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," he said.

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