Process begins to appoint temporary chief constable to PSNI

The Policing Board in Northern Ireland has started a process to appoint an interim chief constable to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

The board said the move came after Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris indicated that he would fast-track the legislation needed to make the temporary appointment.

Board chair Deirdre Toner last week told MPs on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee that members did not currently have the power to appoint an interim police chief following the resignation of Simon Byrne.

Mr Byrne resigned earlier this month following a string of controversies within policing in Northern Ireland.

PSNI data breach
Simon Byrne resigned as PSNI chief constable earlier this month (Liam McBurney/PA)

These included a significant data breach in which the personal details of all officers and staff were mistakenly published online and a critical High Court ruling which said that two junior officers had been unlawfully disciplined.

Current PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton is currently leading the PSNI, although MPs heard last week that he was not at his desk following a medical procedure.

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland has also passed a vote of no confidence in Mr Hamilton’s leadership.

The Policing Board said the interim position would be for a minimum period of three months with the possibility of an extension and the post would carry an annual salary of £219,894.

Ms Toner said: “The Policing Board has been working over the last number of weeks with partners to explore options available to increase operational resilience for the (PSNI) service executive team prior to the appointment of a substantive chief constable.

“The board welcomes the positive response received from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to fast-track the legislation needed to enable approval of an interim appointee and has today moved to advertise the post of interim chief constable with the aim of making an appointment swiftly.

“The board continues to work at pace on the recruitment and appointment of a substantive chief constable with the selection process on schedule for week beginning November 6.

“However, the board recognises that the preferred candidate may have a notice period to work.

“The appointment of an interim chief constable will strengthen the service executive team of the PSNI pending the permanent appointee taking up post.”

Police officers unlawfully disciplined
Policing Board chairwoman Deirdre Toner (Liam McBurney/PA)

The advertisement for the interim role said expressions of interest are welcome from chief constables, or deputy chief constables.

It added: “Consideration will be given to recently retired chief constables or deputy chief constables who otherwise demonstrate they can meet the criteria.”

The board announced earlier this week that the application process for the permanent chief constable role has also opened.

The closing date for applications is October 16 at noon.