Policing board ‘good model’ for accountable policing, says PSNI chief constable

Matt Baggott praises Martin Callinan and pledges continuing strong co-operation with Garda

Chief constable Matt Baggott: said he has ’huge admiration’ for Mr Callinan who has stood down as Garda Commissioner

Chief constable Matt Baggott: said he has ’huge admiration’ for Mr Callinan who has stood down as Garda Commissioner

Thu, Mar 27, 2014, 08:06


The North’s policing board is a “good model” for holding chief police officers to account, the PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott has stated as the Government deliberates over whether to establish a similar body to oversee the Garda.

Mr Baggott, who was attending yesterday’s Policing Board Confidence in Policing conference in the Titanic Belfast visitor centre, also took time to praise former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

“As an independent chief constable it is very important that I am held to account. It’s very important that people challenge me, that people give me their different views and experiences,” he told The Irish Times at the conference.

“I have always worked with policing authorities or policing boards so I am quite used to it. It is a good model for holding chief officers to account and challenging and making sure we keep progressing. Whether it is a model that would apply in the South is really a matter for politicians to decide.”

His experience was that such oversight was “positive rather than a threat” and was necessary for good policing.

“We exercise powers, we exercise controls over huge amounts of money, and we are tasked under Article 2 of the Human Rights Act to keep people safe. So, it is very, very important that we are held accountable as to how we are carrying out our duties.”

Mr Baggott said he had “huge admiration” for Mr Callinan who has stood down as Garda Commissioner. “He was always available for me, always very anxious to find out how we could work closer together.

“The operational support the Garda have given us has been world class. So I have nothing but admiration and professional respect for Martin Callinan as commissioner.”

Mr Baggott said whoever was appointed to succeed Mr Callinan the PSNI and Garda would continue to work together to tackle dissidents, cross-Border organised crime, drug-dealing and other criminality.

“The co-operation has accelerated so much in the past few years that it is irreversible. We share the same island. We have an open border and to protect people, whether it is in the North or South, demands that we actually work together closer and closer all the time.”

At the conference the Northern Ireland policing plan 2014-2017 was launched.

Mr Baggott told delegates that policing progress was being made across many areas but that “the protracted period of disorder and protest [over flags and parades] placed extraordinary pressures on resources and the ability to carry out ‘normal’ routine policing was acutely stretched”. What was holding back policing were matters “we can’t fix ourselves” – the past, parades and flags.