Former RUC officer George Hamilton to be next PSNI chief

Assistant chief constable saw off challenge from Garda and London Met candidates

The next PSNI chief constable will be George Hamilton who currently is an assistant chief constable with the force, the North's Policing Board has announced.

A nine-member appointment panel this evening selected Mr Hamilton to replace chief constable Matt Baggott who is due to retire in the summer.

Mr Hamilton won the competition for the £195,483 per annum post against two other candidates, Garda assistant commissioner Derek Byrne and London's Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Cressida Dick.

Mr Hamilton is an officer who made the transformation from the Royal Ulster Constabulary to the Police Service of Northern Ireland in 2001. He is currently responsible for rural district policing which covers an area of approximately 11,700 square kilometres and a population approximately of 900,000.

The interview panel included independent members and Assembly members representing the DUP, Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the Ulster Unionist Party and Alliance. The fact that Gerry Kelly of Sinn Féin was involved in the appointment of a former RUC officer was viewed as significant.

Mr Hamilton joined the RUC in 1985 and has served in a number of other operational roles. He was the only senior PSNI officer who met the interview criterion of having served in a high-ranking position in an outside force.

Mr Hamilton was assistant chief constable in the crime division in Strathclyde in Scotland from 2009 to 2011 when he returned as an ACC to the PSNI.

Prior to working in Scotland he was a chief superintendent and district commander in B District covering south and east Belfast. He also served as a detective chief inspector and detective superintendent.

He also worked in England for three years on a range of training and organisational development projects. Mr Hamilton 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.

The North's Minister of Justice David Ford, who formally approved the board's decision, said Mr Hamilton was taking on "one of the most challenging policing roles on these islands". He said he would bring a "wealth of leadership experience to the PSNI to shape policing in Northern Ireland over the rest of the decade".

He also paid tribute to Mr Baggott “for his leadership in delivering personal, professional and protective policing to our community, sometimes in the face of extreme adversity”. Mr Baggott is expected to stand down in late July or early August.

Welcoming the appointment the board chairwoman Anne Connolly said the formal date of Mr Hamilton's appointment will be confirmed in the next number of days. "ACC Hamilton brings wide ranging experience to this important job and has the necessary skills to lead the PSNI forward," she said.

“As a board, we are looking forward to working closely with the new chief constable in dealing with the issues facing policing and agreeing a programme of work that supports community confidence in policing,” she added.

Ms Connolly also thanked the two unsuccessful candidates. “The board was very impressed with the calibre of candidates who applied for the chief constable job. They had a vast amount of policing expertise and I would like to thank each of them for their interest,” she said.