Slugger O'Toole

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Matt Baggott to step down as PSNI Chief Constable

Wed 22 January 2014, 12:41pm

Having been appointed, unanimously, by the Northern Ireland Policing Board in August 2009, PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott is to step down from the post.  And, apparently, he is to retire from policing after a 37-year-long career.  His contract was due to end in September 2014.  Presumably he will remain in position here until then…

From the BBC report

He took up the job as head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland in August 2009 and his contract ends in September 2014.

Mr Baggott, who has been a police officer for 37 years, could have sought a two-year extension.

He said it had been “a real privilege to lead the PSNI through the immense changes of the past few years”.

Mr Baggott added: “I am deeply proud of the courage and commitment of my colleagues and the enormous progress they have made on behalf of everyone.

“In my remaining months as chief my priorities will be to ensure the PSNI has the resources to deal effectively with the many challenges ahead and that our very personal, professional and protective service goes from strength to strength.”

It is understood he will not leave immediately.

Perhaps his successor will get that elusive invite to a Sinn Féin ard fheis…  If that successor can get the ‘confidence’ of the media…

Is it too soon to assess his success in promoting ‘community policing’?  Or cutting bureaucracy?

[If it's too soon for Gerry... - Ed]  Indeed.

As Ken Reid notes in the UTV report

Recalling Mr Baggott’s 2009 appointment, UTV’s Political Editor Ken Reid said: “It was quite a difficult job for somebody who came from an English constabulary – it was Lancashire from memory. And he was faced with really a financial task first of all, which was that the numbers of the force had to go down. There’s fewer than 7’000 now in the PSNI now.

“He then had the obvious threat from the dissident republicans, the loyalist street protests and it has been quite a challenging job for somebody particularly coming in from the outside.

“There’s been much speculation recently that he wouldn’t go to renew his contract,” he said.

“Significantly one of his deputies, the Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie revealed quite recently that she will leave the force, I believe, in March.

“So it’s going to be a complete change at the top of the leadership of the PSNI in the Autumn.”

Adds  Perhaps he just ran out of ‘confidence’…

Update  And there will be new criteria for applicants.  From the UTV report

Justice Minister David Ford has removed the need for applicants to the position of Chief Constable to have served at Assistant Chief Constable rank for a minimum of two years in policing outside of Northern Ireland.

Instead the Minister has changed the criteria to desirable and introduced the mandatory requirement that the successful candidate should have successfully completed the Strategic Command Course (or an equivalent).

The Minister has communicated his decision to the NI Policing Board, which is responsible for appointing a new Chief Constable, the PSNI, the Justice Committee, NI Police Federation, the Chief Police Officer’s Staff Association and the Police Superintendents’ Association of Northern Ireland.

The changes mean a local police officer could get the top PSNI role.

Further update  Or maybe not…  From the BBC report

A plan to change the criteria for applicants for the job of NI’s chief constable is to go before the executive.

Justice Minister David Ford had announced the change on Monday.

But the first and deputy first ministers said they regard the issue as “significant in its likely impact on the role of the Policing Board”.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s (PSNI) Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, will retire in September.

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness have written to Mr Ford to tell him of their decision.

The matter will be discussed by the executive on Thursday, and unless Mr Ford withdraws the proposal it is likely to be overturned.

Members of the Policing Board, which appoints the Chief Constable and holds him to account, said they had been caught by surprise by Mr Ford’s announcement.

They said the decision had undermined the board’s authority.

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Comments (18)

  1. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    I mentioned on Slugger last year on a thread on the DCCs decision to bail that Matt Baggott would not see 2014 out as CC.

    Expect more ‘shocks’ in policing to come this year!

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  2. iluvni (profile) says:

    Yes….a rather convenient departure, methinks.
    Good riddance.

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  3. Pete Baker (profile) says:

    Adds Perhaps he just ran out of ‘confidence’…

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  4. cynic2 (profile) says:

    …or saw the writing on the wall

    We have now managed to politicize policing decisions. The DUPs wont have anyone who will not kow tow to fleggers. The Shinners wont want anyone who does

    I suspect that the DDCs sudden departure was based on the realization of what she would have to do to get the top job. For Baggott not to even seek an extension suggests that there is a fundamental breakdown between senior police officers and the politicians

    The reality is now that the political situation is so poisonous no-one of any calibre will want it

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  5. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    The current DCC could not be CC for a number of reasons, including the fact that she could not meet one of the essential criteria being that she has not served in another force for a minimum of two years at the rank of ACC or above.

    ……and no this couldn’t be ignored for this CC recruitment as legislation is required to change such things.

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  6. Brian Walker (profile) says:

    Not Lancaster Ken Leicestershire .. one of them English places.. Point of minor interest .. The NI police headship is no longer important enough to get an automatic knighthood. Will Baggott be rewarded as he quits?

    Will Judith Gillespie get the top job? If not why not? I wonder if son of strongbow’s criteria are mandatory?

    Not that long ago they didn’t exist

    There is a diversity tsunami raging through the public sector….

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  7. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    The criteria still applies as far as I know. The Policing Board were to discuss removing the two-year rule but I don’t believe that progressed.

    The rule used to apply throughout the UK but was changed in England and Wales in late 2012 (the change also heralded the arrival of Crime Commissioners). So if she wanted to Ms Gillespie could apply for a Chief’s post across the water (but I bet she won’t).

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  8. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Baggott was hired to reform and enhance community policing. He wasn’t hired to do riot policing and I suspect that he wouldn’t have taken the job had he anticipated the events of the past 18 months.

    In addition he’s barely been able to contain his contempt for politicians undermining his position and their equivocation over the approach of the police.

    I’m not surprised he’s throwing in the towel.

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  9. Hopping The Border (profile) says:

    SoS is correct on the eligibility criteria remaining in place.

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  10. cynic2 (profile) says:

    “SoS is correct on the eligibility criteria remaining in place.”

    Can you point to where please?

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  11. cynic2 (profile) says:

    “The current DCC could not be CC for a number of reasons”

    ….including learning Irish and being alleged to be building too many bridges to republicans while not helping the poor fleggers and furthering the DUPs political ambitions??

    Dont forget that all these people are on fixed term contracts now so if they want a renewal they need the support of both sides who will try to exert a price – exactly what Patten was supposed to prevent but failed to control

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  12. cynic2 – your last comment remove – try and keep Slugger out of potential legal problems.

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  13. Pete Baker (profile) says:

    Update And there will be new criteria for applicants. From the UTV report

    Justice Minister David Ford has removed the need for applicants to the position of Chief Constable to have served at Assistant Chief Constable rank for a minimum of two years in policing outside of Northern Ireland.

    Instead the Minister has changed the criteria to desirable and introduced the mandatory requirement that the successful candidate should have successfully completed the Strategic Command Course (or an equivalent).

    The Minister has communicated his decision to the NI Policing Board, which is responsible for appointing a new Chief Constable, the PSNI, the Justice Committee, NI Police Federation, the Chief Police Officer’s Staff Association and the Police Superintendents’ Association of Northern Ireland.

    The changes mean a local police officer could get the top PSNI role.

    What do you think?
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  14. Pete Baker (profile) says:

    Further update Or maybe not… From the BBC report

    A plan to change the criteria for applicants for the job of NI’s chief constable is to go before the executive.

    Justice Minister David Ford had announced the change on Monday.

    But the first and deputy first ministers said they regard the issue as “significant in its likely impact on the role of the Policing Board”.

    The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s (PSNI) Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, will retire in September.

    Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness have written to Mr Ford to tell him of their decision.

    The matter will be discussed by the executive on Thursday, and unless Mr Ford withdraws the proposal it is likely to be overturned.

    Members of the Policing Board, which appoints the Chief Constable and holds him to account, said they had been caught by surprise by Mr Ford’s announcement.

    They said the decision had undermined the board’s authority.

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  15. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    It’s interesting that Ford is the only minister who possesses the magic which causes OFMDFM to quickly come to a joint decision.

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  16. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    Ford certainly doing a good job.

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  17. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    Ford’s attempt to remove Patten’s two-year rule will not fly with Sinn Fein. With such a removal the CC’s post would be open to a raft of applicants within the PSNI who have RUC antecedents. An ‘RUC’ Chief Constable would be a challenging sell to the provo community.

    The change would allow the eligible Top Team officers the luxury of being in a position to apply for CC’s job with a bet-hedging application for the DCC’s post on the side.

    Gerry Kelly’s talk on the media today about the proposed change disadvantaging the current DCC, given her recent retirement announcement, is a smokescreen. She was never getting the job.

    What is Ford’s motivation? Is he simply trying to bolster the profile of the Justice Department (where responsibility for policing naturally resides) even if it means biting the political hands that fed him his job?

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  18. IrelandNorth (profile) says:

    The unemployed often complain that they can’t get a job because they’ve no experience. And they can’t get experience because they’ve no job. Somewhat of a chicken and egg conundrum. Yet, like solutions to the most complicated problems, the answer is relatively straighforward. David Ford should get on to his southern counterpart Alan Shatter, and suggest that current Deputy Assistant Chief Constable (DACC) of the the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Judith Gillespie, be considered for the position of Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Án Gárda Síochána na h’Éireann (ÁGSÉ) for the requisite period to qualify her as PSNI/CC. Matt Baggot’s successor could be contracted for two years. Then if DACC/DC Gillespie wished to head up ÁGSÉ, Commissioner Callanan may have retired in the intervening years. The Commissioners current deputy might equally be seconded to the PSNI for like period. This would not only be good for gender equality, but would go a long way to challenge patriarchal culture in both police forces on the Island.

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