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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Rebecca Black

NI Policing Board meets behind closed doors to discuss appointment of new chief

PA Wire

The Northern Ireland Policing Board is continuing to meet behind closed doors amid a crisis within policing in the region.

Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable Simon Byrne resigned last week following a string of controversies.

Pressure has been mounting on the leadership of the PSNI after a data breach which disclosed personal details of officers and staff, and a critical High Court judgment which said the disciplining of two officers following an arrest at a Troubles memorial event in Belfast in 2021 was unlawful.

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton was to assume the responsibilities of the chief.

He had been expected to attend an extraordinary meeting of the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, on Wednesday but was unable to attend due to an unplanned medical procedure.

It is vitally important that we put our heads together and plot a way forward to get out of this to return some stability to the police service
— Mark Durkan

A PSNI spokesman said the senior executive team is leading the organisation while Mr Hamilton recovers.

During the meeting on Wednesday, the federation unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in Mr Hamilton, and also expressed no confidence in the PSNI’s chief operating officer, Pamela McCreedy, and assistant chief officer Clare Duffield.

The Policing Board is meeting to discuss the appointment of a new Chief Constable.

There have been calls for the appointment of an interim leader to steer the service during the period of crisis.

Arriving at the board meeting on Thursday morning, DUP MLA Trevor Clarke said the board will aim to bring the PSNI back to where it should be.

“The aim is to try and fix it and bring it back to where it should be,” he said.

“I think it would be unfair to say no one is concerned at the minute because we all are.”

Alliance MLA Nuala McAllister said the “fixation on individuals” is becoming damaging for the PSNI ahead of the board meeting in Belfast.

“Alliance have been clear from the very start that we need to have proper process, and that’s why we called for a review of the senior executive team,” she said.

“But the fixation on individuals I think is getting really unhealthy for the PSNI and we need to make sure that as a board, we do our work, we ask the right questions we hold people to account.

“Today there are many items on the agenda. It’s not just about the crisis that’s actually facing the PSNI today, but it’s about making sure that the PSNI continues because remember, there are officers on the ground still doing the work.

“So there’s a lot of issues to get through today, and we’ll make sure that we do our role properly.”

SDLP MLA Mark Durkan said the board would need to “put their heads together”, as they meet to discuss the crisis in leadership in the PSNI.

“It is vitally important that we put our heads together and plot a way forward to get out of this to return some stability to the police service and to assist the officers doing their job,” he said.

Asked on the concerns the Police Federation for Northern Ireland has expressed with the function of the policing board throughout the crisis in the PSNI, Mr Durkan said they could not be ignored.

“I don’t think it’s something that we can ignore, absolutely not. I’ve heard their concerns and I have to say I share some of their concerns, so all those matters will be discussed today and many days after this I suppose,” he said.

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