Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Independent UK
The Independent UK
David Young

Interviews completed for Northern Ireland’s new police chief

Interviews for Northern Ireland’s next chief constable have been completed.

Interim Chief Constable Jon Boutcher and current Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton are vying for the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s top job.

Former PSNI chief Simon Byrne resigned in September following a string of controversies.

Mr Boutcher, who is the former police chief of Bedfordshire, was appointed as the interim head of the service pending the outcome of the interviews for the permanent £220,000-a-year post.

The PSNI’s oversight body, the Northern Ireland Policing Board, conducted interviews with the two shortlisted candidates at the board’s headquarters in Belfast on Monday.

A multi-stage deliberation and selection process has now commenced.

In normal circumstances, when a devolved government is in place in Northern Ireland, the board’s selection would be sent to Stormont’s justice minister for final approval.

With no justice minister in place due to the ongoing powersharing impasse, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris will be responsible for signing off on the appointment.

The interview panel was made up of Policing Board chair Deirdre Toner, independent board member Mukesh Sharma and three political members of the oversight body – Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly, the DUP’s Joanne Bunting and Nuala McAllister from the Alliance Party.

An external adviser from His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) was on hand during the interviews to provide advice.

Mr Singleton’s interview began at 9am and ended at around 12pm.

He declined to comment on how it went as he left the Policing Board building.

Mr Boutcher’s interview was scheduled for 2pm and concluded just before 5pm.

Once the interview panel makes a selection, an online meeting of the full board will be convened.

After that concludes, a full report outlining the selection and rationale behind it will be sent to Mr Heaton-Harris.

The Secretary of State is then obliged to consult with officials at Stormont’s Department of Justice before officially approving the board’s selection.

Given the various stages in the selection process, it could be Tuesday before the identity of the new chief constable is officially confirmed.

Mr Boutcher previously applied to become PSNI chief constable in 2019, but lost out to Mr Byrne.

He was until recently leading Operation Kenova, which has been investigating the activities of “Stakeknife”, the Army’s top agent in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

Mr Singleton has previously held high-profile roles within the PSNI, including leading the Paramilitary Crime Task Force before going on to head up the Legacy Investigation Branch.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.