Matt Baggott to step down as PSNI Chief Constable

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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