Northern Ireland

Policing Board rejects Ford's changes to chief constable recruitment

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Media captionNorthern Ireland Policing Board members voted to reject Justice Minister David Ford's proposals on appointing NI's next top police officer

The Northern Ireland Policing Board has voted to formally reject David Ford's plans to introduce new rules for the appointment of a new chief constable.

The justice minister sparked a political row when he said he wanted to change the recruitment rules for Northern Ireland's top policing job.

The row began days after Matt Baggott announced he is to retire in September.

Mr Ford wanted to remove the need for candidates to have served two years as assistant chief constable outside NI.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was highly critical of the Alliance leader's move and last week, DUP board member Jonathan Craig compared Mr Ford to a "little Nero".

At a meeting on Thursday, board members agreed to formally reject the justice minister's proposal and told Mr Ford it intends to use the existing rules to recruit the PSNI's next top officer.


That would mean that Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton is the only senior PSNI officer who can apply for the job.

The two-year rule excluded potential candidates including PSNI ACCs Alistair Finlay, Will Kerr, and Drew Harris.

It also excluded Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie who has already announced her decision to retire and will leave the PSNI next month.

Northern Ireland's first and deputy first minister have told Mr Ford that they will make the decision on his proposed changes for appointing the next chief constable.

However, the fact that the board has officially told the justice minister that it intends to use the current rules means a change to the recruitment requirements is highly unlikely.

The process to replace Matt Baggott will start next month and it is understood the board would like the task to be completed before the end of June.

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