Northern Ireland news

No serving PSNI officers eligible for the post of Chief Constable

Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher is being tipped as a possible replacement for George Hamilton.

There are no senior, serving members of the PSNI currently qualified to replace retiring Chief Constable George Hamilton.

Mr Hamilton announced yesterday that he will leave his post in June having turned down an offer by the Policing Board to extend his contract by three years.

His departure will leave five senior posts within the force to be officially filled on a permanent basis.

The collapse of the assembly created an impasse with no political members of the Policing Board appointed to interview for the senior policing posts.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley broke the impasse last November by re-constituting the Policing Board, formally appointing both independent and political members.

However, while the vacant posts can now be formally filled none of the current senior officers have spent time working in a police force other than the PSNI or RUC, which is one of the main criteria for the post of Chief Constable.

Acting Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin was appointed to the second in command role in August last year following the departure of Drew Harris, now the Garda Commissioner.

While he has over 32 years police service, his career has been confined to Northern Ireland meaning he does not fit the criteria.

There are also three Assistant Chief Constable posts currently filled on a temporary basis.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Tim Mairs is responsible for the Innovation and Standards Department.

The PSNIs most senior female officer Barbara Gray was appointed as temporary Assistant Chief Constable, Operational Support Department in February 2017.

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Temporary Assistant Chief Constable George Clarke who was also appointed to the post last year and is responsible for Legacy and Legal matters.

None of the three have served time in an outside force.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, who has previously been tipped as a future chief constable is also inlegible due to the strict stipulation for outside force experience.

Instead the Policing Board will be instead be looking outside of Northern Ireland for a replacement.

Former PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr is currently serving as Police Scotland's Deputy Chief Constable, prior to that he was on secondment to the NCA.

Will Kerr, currently Deputy Chief Constable of Police Scotland is also being tipped as a contender.

He previously lodged an employment case against the Policing Board alleging discrimination on the grounds of religious belief/political opinion.

Mr Kerr unsuccessfully applied to become Deputy Chief Constable of the PSNI, but lost out to Drew Harris.

Shortly before the case was due to be heard it was settled privately. While he is currently a front runner for the job, there is expected to be other outside interest.

Garda Deputy Commissioner John Twomey and Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy were both shortlisted for the Garda Commissioner post. But lost out to Drew Harris and it is being speculated they may apply for the PSNI job.

Another name in the running is current chief constable of Bedfordshire Constabulary Jon Boutcher.

Currently in charge of the Operation Kenova investigation into the informer known as Stakeknife, he has an indepth knowledge of the unique circumstances facing police in Northern Ireland and would meet the criteria for the top post.

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