Northern Ireland

George Hamilton wants 'safer, better' Northern Ireland

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Media captionNew chief constable George Hamilton said he was passionate about Northern Ireland

George Hamilton has said he wants to be the chief constable to make Northern Ireland "a safer, better, more confident place".

On Thursday, Mr Hamilton was appointed as the head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

He will take over the job when the current chief constable Matt Baggott steps down over the summer.

At a press conference on Friday, Mr Hamilton said he was "honoured and humbled" to have been selected.

"I care passionately about this place," 46-year-old Mr Hamilton said.

"I have a stake in it, I have got family here. I have lived here for most of my life and I believe that it's important that we all work together and everyone makes the contribution that they can to make Northern Ireland a better place to live, to work, to visit."

Nine Policing Board members were on Thursday's interviewing panel for the £195,000 a year chief constable job.

The Bangor man saw off the challenge of An Garda Síochána assistant commissioner Derek Byrne and Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Cressida Dick.

Mr Hamilton has been a police officer since joining the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in 1985.

He was assistant chief constable in Strathclyde from 2009 to 2011 and also worked in England for three years on a range of police training and organisational development projects.

Political tensions

Mr Hamilton acknowledged political tensions existed in Northern Ireland over controversial issues like flags, parades and the past.

However, he said that would be a matter for politicians to resolve.

"Of course I, like anyone else who has got a stake, who cares passionately about the well-being of Northern Ireland, would like to see a resolution to that," he said.

"I think we need to allow the politicians to get on with that.

"I am up for engagement with those political leaders around that, but primarily it is a political issue and it requires a wider political, societal resolution."

Mr Hamilton said the PSNI faced "massive challenges" in regard to legacy cases, but said he did not want to see them "written off".

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Image caption Chief Constable Matt Baggott paid tribute to his successor

"There are massive challenges there, there are financial challenges on how we are going to fund that," he said.

"That is a dilemma that I want to share and discuss with the Policing Board about the best way forward on all of that.

"But every one of those legacy issues are not just to be written off as some sort of second division policing - those are real issues for families today who still feel pain and hurt and so that will be an important issue that we need to deal with together."

Mr Hamilton said Mr Baggott had "put in place some very important building blocks" which he intended to take forward.

Mr Baggott also paid tribute to his successor.

"George Hamilton is an outstanding police leader with significant skills and experience," he said.

"I'm delighted he is to be my successor and he will bring a huge amount to the role of chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland."

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