Change to PSNI chief criteria rejected

Change to PSNI chief criteria rejected

Justice Minister David Ford’s proposals to change the recruitment criteria for the next chief constable of Northern Ireland have been rejected by the Policing Board.

Last month, outgoing Chief Constable Matt Baggott announced he would not be renewing his contract which expires in September. Mr Baggott, 55, spent the first 20 years of his service in the Metropolitan Police and took up the head role within the PSNI in 2009.It came after Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie in December revealed her plans to leave the police service on 31 March 2014.A row over choosing the successor to Matt Baggott began when Justice Minister David Ford said he wants to remove the mandatory requirement for a new chief to have served at assistant chief constable rank for a minimum of two years in another police service.The issue has been brought before the Executive which decided that it would have the final say on any changes to the criteria used to select Mr Baggott's successor.Members of the Policing Board formally rejected Alliance minister Mr Ford's proposals.Jonathan Craig of the DUP said: "I am pleased that the Policing Board has today rejected the Minister of Justice's attempt to meddle in such a sensitive public recruitment process."It was entirely inappropriate and dictatorial of the Justice Minister to attempt to alter the criteria for candidates applying for the post of chief constable in the way that he did."Chris Lyttle of Alliance argued: "The minister for justice is discharging his statutory responsibility to set the minimum criteria available to the Policing Board when setting the actual criteria for appointing the chief constable."It has been proposed in advance of any appointment process, with the aim of enhancing the capacity of the Policing Board and in compliance with equality advice that the existing minimum criteria may be discriminatory."Thursday's meeting of the Policing Board was the first since Matt Baggott and Judith Gillespie announced their intentions to retire from the PSNI in 2014.Members of the board agreed that selecting the new chief constable should be the first priority when the appointments process formally starts in March.Board chair Anne Connolly said: "This consensus decision has been taken to ensure continuity in the leadership of the PSNI. As a board we are well aware of the importance of these two appointments and our responsibilities in making them."

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