New police chief criteria 'appropriate'

New police chief criteria 'appropriate'

Justice Minister David Ford has defended his decision to change the criteria for appointing the new PSNI Chief Constable.

The Alliance MLA announced on Monday he had removed the need for applicants to the position of Chief Constable to have served at Assistant Chief Constable rank for a minimum of two years in policing outside of Northern Ireland.The changes mean a local police officer could get the top PSNI role.This prompted the First and deputy First Ministers to instruct Mr Ford to bring his proposed changes before the Executive for consideration.First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said in a statement they had determined it was a "significant matter" under the terms of the ministerial code.But in the assembly on Tuesday, the Justice Minister strongly defended his actions."What I am absolutely certain off is that my decision was the correct decision, my decision was appropriate, proportional and has actually not created the difficulties which a number of people who were ill-informed about the circumstances appear to have highlighted," Mr Ford said."On that basis I would be very happy to go to the Executive meeting on Thursday and explain for the benefit of ministers and as indeed I will be putting in an Executive paper over the next day or so the details of what has been done to explain why it has been appropriate, why it is my role as justice minister to carry that out and to explain that in general to ministers."Meanwhile SDLP West Belfast MLA and former member of the Policing Board Alex Attwood said that David Ford, Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson need to 'back off' and leave the Policing Board to get on with the appointment of senior PSNI personnel.He said their actions challenged the authority of the Policing Board and called for all three to withdraw their actions."The authority of the Policing Board must be jealously guarded. Patten made that abundantly clear," he said."It is for the Board to have the lead and primary role when it comes to the criteria of the appointment of senior police officers. That is the way it was during the life of the first Policing Board. That is the way it should be."Last week, 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.David Ford says the Policing Board has the primacy role. He says his decision was made to help the board to select the best candidate.— Ken Reid (@KenReid_utv) January 28, 2014


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