Deputising PSNI chief decides to withdraw application

 

A leading Ulster Unionist member of the Policing Board has expressed "total bafflement" at the decision of the acting chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Mr Colin Cramphorn, to rule himself out as a candidate for the top PSNI post.

Yesterday was the closing date for applications. With Mr Cramphorn's withdrawal it is believed a very small number of officers, possibly as low as three, have applied to be Sir Ronnie Flanagan's successor.

Two serving PSNI officers meet the criteria to apply, assistant chief constables Mr Alan McQuillan, who is responsible for Belfast, and Mr Chris Albiston, who recently returned from secondment in Kosovo.

It is understood they have applied.

A third eligible candidate is Ms Maria Wallace, originally from Northern Ireland, who is deputy chief constable in Sussex.

The next chief constable should be known by the end of June.

The UUP Assembly member, Mr Fred Cobain, yesterday rejected an apparent suggestion by Mr Cramphorn that the Policing Board indicated he could not meet the requirements for the job.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Cramphorn said: "In working with the Northern Ireland Policing Board over the last six months it has become apparent to me that the board's aspiration is for a chief constable of a style and type that I could never be.

"In recognition of this, and out of respect for the board's prerogative in the matter of the appointment of chief officers, I have therefore decided not to burden the board with an application which would be in neither my own or the board's long-term best interests."

Mr Cobain said he did not know the basis on which Mr Cramphorn (45), arrived at this conclusion.

Mr Cramphorn was recently unsuccessful in his application for the chief post at Manchester Police and is understood to be in the running for a number of other chief constable positions in Britain.

Mr Cobain was surprised Mr Cramphorn withdrew his application, particularly as he had risen to the position of Sir Ronnie's deputy.

"I would think having got that far I would want to be chief constable," he told The Irish Times.

He said the PSNI chief constable position was the most challenging policing job "on these islands" and required someone who was enterprising, innovative and had leadership qualities.

"What's the sense of spending your whole professional life in doing the job if you don't want to be top cat? I don't understand it," said Mr Cobain.

Mr Ian Paisley junior, a DUP MLA and Policing Board member, said he was not surprised at Mr Cramphorn's decision.

"They [the board] want a chief constable to work with a board that doesn't work with the police. Little wonder we can't attract high-ranking officers from within the police service let alone outsiders that want the job," he added.

Meanwhile, the former SDLP leader, Mr John Hume, has implicitly blamed Provisional republicans for a recent arson attack outside the home of SDLP Strabane MLA Mr Eugene McMenamin and for a hoax bomb left outside the home of party councillor in Derry Ms Helen Quigley.

Mr Hume linked the attacks to the SDLP's decision to join the Policing Board.