Board condemns unhelpful ‘public commentary’ on PSNI’s leadership team
The Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB) has condemned “public commentary” on the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s (PSNI) senior leadership team.
It comes after an extraordinary meeting of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) this week unanimously passed a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the deputy chief constable of the PSNI Mark Hamilton.
It also voted to express no confidence in the PSNI’s Chief Operating Officer Pamela McCreedy and the Assistant Chief Officer Clare Duffield in the fall-out from a Judicial Review ruling that resulted in the resignation of Simon Byrne as chief constable.
However, NIPB chair Deirdre Toner and vice-chair Edgar Jardine said public commentary on confidence in individuals was “not endorsed by the board”.
Mr Jardine also said it was “not helpful”.
In a statement issued following a meeting on Thursday (September 7), the NIPB said: “Through discussions and engagements over the course of the last few days the board has heard the depth of feelings held across the PSNI at all levels and within the public domain.
“As a board we are committed to dealing with all the issues facing policing and will continue to do so in the best interests of policing and the community.
“Whilst the board’s primary duty is oversight and accountability it also has employer and employee legal responsibilities to fulfil and due process to follow.
“At this time public commentary on confidence in individuals in the senior leadership team is not endorsed by the board.
“The board has set in place review mechanisms and other processes are underway and these must be allowed to progress and complete.”
PFNI chair Liam Kelly said: “The comments and criticism from Mr Jardine on behalf of NIPB are noted.
“The decisions of the PFNI Central Committee were laid out in our media release yesterday and are a matter of public record.
“In line with our members policing without fear or favour, the PFNI will continue to professionally comment on matters as we see fit on behalf of our representatives and membership.”
Following the resignation of the PSNI chief constable, the board said it had agreed “a number of actions” at Thursday’s meeting, which was dedicated to progressing those alongside other items of urgent board business.
It said the recruitment of a new chief constable was a priority and the process will begin at the end of the month.
“Today the board has agreed the timescale and started the process for the appointment of a new chief constable,” the NIPB said.
“The competition will open at the end of September with the selection process scheduled to complete in early November.”
The NIPB also agreed that a review of the senior leadership team now progresses with the terms of reference developed and brought to the board for approval.
In addition, the Department of Justice has agreed to commission a review of how the NIPB discharges its legislative duties, including issues raised in the Scoffield Judgment.
“Given the importance of the police oversight arrangements, the board agrees this work needs to be progressed as quickly as possible through an independent process,” the NIPB said.
It added: “Aside from the current issues, policing is also facing an extremely difficult financial position that needs to be resolved including recovery and financial implications of the data breach.
“Recent meetings were not held in public due to the sensitive nature of the issues being discussed at this time.
“The board’s priority over the last few days has been to bring stability and confidence in what has been an unprecedented time for policing, and for our role as a policing board.
“At this time, we also appreciate, that police officers and staff at all levels across the organisation continue to deliver an essential public service to the community and deserve everyone’s support.”