Hugh Orde to quit PSNI

PSNI police Chief Hugh Orde is to leave his position in the North of Ireland after securing a job in England.

He was announced as the new president of the Association of Chief Police Officers in London today. He quits the PSNI as the British Crown forces face a new wave of militant republicanism.

After seven years in charge of Britain’s police force in the North of Ireland, Mr Orde is now expected to leave the PSNI in the autumn.

From Surrey in southeast England, he became chief constable of the PSNI (formerly RUC) in September 2002.

After several interjections into the North’s political process, Orde established himself as a controversial and polarising figure. He became synonymous with ‘political policing’, a strategy of effecting political change through policing actions. This culminated in the infamous ‘Stormontgate’ police raid on Sinn Fein’s offices at the Belfast assembly, ostensibly because of the presence of an ‘IRA spy ring’.

His tenure was also marked by failed and bogus prosecutions in the Northern Bank robbery, the death of Belfast man Robert McCartney and the Omagh bomb trials.

He was also condemned by republicans for not doing enough to steer the PSNI away from the oppressive and heavy-handed practices of its predecessor, the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The North’s Policing Board said the process of appointing Mr Orde’s successor will begin shortly.

Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey said “without doubt” Orde had made “a significant contribution to many of the policing changes we have been part of in recent years”.

“However his time has not been without problems. Under his leadership the PSNI have consistently withheld information from inquests and blocked families in their pursuit of the truth and responses to ordinary criminal matters particularly in working class areas has been disappointing.

“We have also recently put on the record our dissatisfaction at the use of extended periods of detention.

“Hugh Orde’s departure along with other senior officers who have indicated they are intending to move on, provides an opportunity for the Policing Board, under its new leadership, to put in place a new and dynamic group of officers at the top of the PSNI to manage the next stages of policing transformation which will occur with the transfer of powers.

“That work needs now to be our priority.”

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