New PSNI chief appointed amid devolution doubts

Members of the Policing Board have unanimously appointed Englishman Matt Baggott, head of Leicestershire police, as the new PSNI chief.

Mr Baggott was announced as the successor to Hugh Orde after all four candidates were interviewed by a Policing Board selection panel yesterday.

Mr Baggot, who is originally from south London, was favourite for the job which has an annual salary of 183,000 pounds ($304,000).

Mr Baggot is expected to take up the job within the next few months, although it is unclear whether he will be in the post before Orde gives up the job at the end of this month.

He said last night it was a “great privilege” to be appointed.

However, he declined to make any specific statements.

“I know it’s a complex situation,” he said.

“I am looking forward to working with some very good people and some very effective people.

“Policing with the community is a major part of the Patten report. I am looking forward to moving that on.

“I have just been appointed... so at this moment in time I am just going to enjoy the privilege of being appointed and I am not going to make any other comments on this matter.”

Sinn Féin policing board members Alex Maskey and Martina Anderson also voted for Mr Baggott, but made no comment on the appointment.


In a separate development, nationalists have warned that the two unionist parties could be acting in concert to postpone the transfer of policing and justice powers from London to Belfast for another five years.

The Ulster Unionist Party has proposed a “trial period” for the devolution of the powers because of doubts over the financial requirements of the move, echoing recent remarks by DUP leader Peter Robinson.

DUP Minister Arlene Foster also claimed policing and justice powers could only be devolved when there is “community confidence” to support the move, which she said required the support of the UUP.

The UUP finance spokesman, David McNarry said that any financial package for the transfer of policing and justice powers “needs to be rigorously tested for its financial sustainability, risk management and contingency planning against potential shortfalls, and it should be rolled out over a five-year period, initially being funded entirely by Westminster [the British government.

“Only then, on the basis of the outcomes of this five-year period, should it be fully transferred,” declared Mr McNarry.

SDLP Assembly member Alex Attwood said Mr McNarry’s proposed “five-year testing period” had “put the cat amongst the pigeons and made justice devolution uncertain”.

“The UUP will find it hard to pull back from this and Peter Robinson’s view appears to be that he won’t jump without the UUP. That’s the political significance and damage of the UUP position,” he said.

Sinn Féin spokesman on policing Alex Maskey said that an agreement on transferring justice powers was already in place and was not an optional extra.

“The British government have committed to bringing forward the detail of the financial package in early September. This process is moving ahead, like many other things, with or without David McNarry and the UUP,” he said.

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