Chief constable to retire

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable George Hamilton has announced that he will retire at the end of June this year. 

Jan 28, 2019
By Neil Root
CC George Hamilton

Mr Hamilton, 51, was offered a three-year extension to his contract, but he decided “that it is the right time for both me and the PSNI that I retire from policing in June 2019”. 

He said that until he retires, he will remain “fully committed to keeping people safe and helping to build a safe, confident and peaceful society”. 

Anne Connolly, chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, accepted Mr Hamilton’s decision to retire “with regret”. 

Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone responded to the news on Twitter: “A huge loss to UK policing – a man, cop and chief with outstanding judgement, experience, leadership and humility, always put public service above all. Best wishes to George and family, from your many friends in Scotland.”

Mr Hamilton will have served as chief constable for exactly five years when he steps down. 

He wrote on Twitter today (January 28): “I have today informed @NIPolicingBoard of my intention to retire at the end of June. It’s been a huge honour to have served the public through policing for almost 34 years & undoubtedly the greatest privilege of my career has been to serve as Chief Constable of @PoliceServiceNI”. 

Mr Hamilton said in a statement: “I want to thank the Policing Board for their ongoing confidence in me and the offer of a three-year extension to my contract. Having thought long and carefully, I have decided that it is the right time for both me and the PSNI that I retire from policing in June 2019. 

“I have completed almost 34 years in the police service, having served in the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC, Strathclyde Police and Police Service of Northern Ireland.  

“It has been a huge honour to have served the public through policing and without doubt, the greatest privilege of my career has been to serve as chief constable of the PSNI for the last five years. 

“I am privileged and humbled to have led the dedicated officers and staff of the PSNI and to have worked in partnership with so many people committed to public service in Northern Ireland and beyond. 

“Our society today is a much more peaceful and progressive society than it was when I joined policing over 33 years ago. The PSNI has been part of that transformation, as it has focused on delivering Policing with the Community at the same time as modernising its service delivery.” 

Mr Hamilton added that there is undoubtedly challenges in the months and years ahead but added: “We have overcome greater challenges in the past and there is nothing that cannot be achieved if the police, our partners and the community continue to work together”. 

Mr Hamilton entered the police service in August 1983 through the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) cadet scheme and was appointed as a substantive constable two years later, serving on the front line in Fermanagh and Belfast. He was promoted to sergeant in 1990 at the age of 23, and to inspector in 1994. 

In that year, he was seconded to the Home Office and worked in England and Wales, developing national policing selection and appraisal systems. In 1997, he returned to frontline policing in Lisburn and Belfast, and then from 1999 until 2002 he worked on organisational policy to enable the implementation of policing reforms, including the development of the PSNI Code of Ethics, as recommended in the Patten Report. 

From 2002 until 2007, Mr Hamilton worked in CID in Belfast, rising to the rank of chief superintendent for South and East Belfast. In January 2009 he was appointed as assistant chief constable with Strathclyde Police, holding responsibility for serious crime and public protection, including a national role supporting and developing policing across Scotland in the time leading up to the creation of the single Police Service of Scotland.  

At the end of 2011, he returned to the PSNI, and in June 2013 he was appointed as assistant chief constable for district policing, before becoming chief constable in June 2014. Mr Hamilton was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal (QPM) in 2015. 

During his term as chief constable, he has had to steer the force through financially turbulent times, with budget cuts of over £150 million, at a time when the focus has been on areas of high risk and vulnerability. He has also made the policy of “Keeping People Safe by Policing with the Community” more central to the force’s direction.  

During his tenure, crime has remained low and confidence in policing is high according to independent surveys. He has also been strongly committed to developing a partnership agenda, forming the Paramilitary Crime Taskforce and the cross-border Joint Agency Taskforce, and on issues such as custody healthcare across public services. 

He is also a member of the UK Counter Terrorism Co-ordinating Committee, a co-director of the Senior Police National Assessment Centre and a member of the Leadership in Counter-Terrorism Alumni Association. 

Mrs Connolly said: “It is with regret that the Chief Constable has today informed me of his intention to resign at the end of June 2019.  The Policing Board last week offered the Chief Constable a three-year extension to his contact which he has decided not to take up, and the Board respects that decision.” 

The Policing Board said that it needs to put a process in place for the appointment of a new chief constable, and this will be discussed at its meeting on February 6. 



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