Northern Ireland

Police Service of Northern Ireland: Interviews for PSNI Chief Constable job

Chief Constable Matt Baggott Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Chief Constable Matt Baggott announced his decision to retire in January

Interviews for the new Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) are taking place.

Garda officer Derek Byrne, Cressida Dick from the Metropolitan Police and the PSNI's George Hamilton have been shortlisted for the job.

The successful candidate will succeed Matt Baggott, who announced in January that he would be retiring.

Mr Baggott took up the job in 2009 and his contract ends in September.

Nine Policing Board members form the interviewing panel for the £195,000 a year job.

Each candidate will be given a short period of time to prepare a 10 minute presentation on a topic they will be given on arrival.

They will then each be asked exactly the same questions. The questions were only finalised shortly before the interviews began at 10:30 BST on Thursday morning, to limit the chances of them being leaked.

They will then be scored by each panel member.

It is not a case of members voting for their preferred candidate. The recruitment process is the same as for any other job in Northern Ireland, with the person scoring the highest marks being recommended for the job.

At that point the board's chairwoman Anne Connolly will phone justice minister David Ford to inform him who the panel believes should be appointed Chief Constable and why.

It is only when he gives his formal approval that the preferred candidate will be contacted and offered the job.

It is unthinkable that the minister would disagree and refuse to endorse the board's choice, but it is a process that has to be followed.

The candidates are:

Derek Byrne

Image copyright An Garda Siochana
Image caption Derek Byrne is an Assistant Commission with An Garda Siochana

Dubliner Derek Byrne was appointed assistant commissioner of An Garda Síochána (Irish police) in 2007.

He joined the force in 1979 and served at Clones, County Monaghan and Cabra and Blanchardstown in Dublin.

Promotions to sergeant, inspector, superintendent, chief superintendent followed, before his appointment as an assistant commissioner.

He initially served in the northern region as assistant commissioner, working alongside the PSNI in some investigations before moving to National Support Services in October 2008.

In 2010, Mr Byrne jointly led an internal investigation into allegations of garda misconduct made by the high-profile whistleblower, Sgt Maurice McCabe.

However, earlier this month, an independent review of the force's handling of Mr McCabe's allegations criticised Mr Byrne's report, concluding there was "cause for concern as to the adequacy of the investigation" that he had jointly overseen.

The Guerin Report stated: "There is a sufficient basis for concern as to whether all appropriate steps were taken by An Garda Siochana to investigate and address the specified complaints."

Mr Byrne is currently completing a masters degree in Violence, Terrorism and Security at Queen's University Belfast.

He has previously received qualifications from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia; Harvard University, John Jay College, New York and New Scotland Yard anti-terrorist branch.

Cressida Dick

Image copyright Metropolitan Police
Image caption Cressida Dick is an Assistant Commissioner with the Metropolitan Police

Oxford-born Cressida Dick is assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and a recipient of the Queen's Police Medal.

An Oxford graduate, Ms Dick joined the Metropolitan Police in 1983. Within 10 years she had been promoted to chief inspector.

She completed a Master's in criminology at Cambridge University, returning to policing in 2001.

She received the specialist 'shoot-to-kill' firearms training that qualified her to head terror alert operations in the wake of 7/7.

Her role in the police operation that culminated in the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005 attracted criticism, though she was cleared of blame for his death in 2007.

In July 2011, Ms Dick was appointed assistant commissioner, specialist operations. She also held the rank of acting deputy commissioner for a time.

George Hamilton

Image caption George Hamilton is an Assistant Chief Constable with the PSNI

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton is currently responsible for District Policing Rural, which covers an area of approximately 11,700 square kilometres of Northern Ireland and a population of approximately 900,000.

He joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1985 and as a detective chief inspector and detective superintendent was involved in a number of high profile investigations.

He was chief superintendent and district commander for south and east Belfast before being appointed assistant chief constable of Strathclyde police in 2009.

He returned to the PSNI in 2011 and also served in England and Wales between 1994 and 1997.

On his return to Northern Ireland in 1997 he became involved with the Patten Commission.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Politics and Economics and a Masters in Business Administration. He is a member of the Institute of Directors and the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Leadership Association.

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