Northern Secretary expected to reconstitute policing board

Just six members of board still in situ from full-strength group comprising 19 members

A much-reduced policing board remains operative but has no legal authority to oversee the work of the PSNI due to the collapse of Stormont.

A much-reduced policing board remains operative but has no legal authority to oversee the work of the PSNI due to the collapse of Stormont.

 

Northern Secretary Karen Bradley plans to introduce legislation in the autumn to reconstitute the North’s Policing Board, senior sources said on Tuesday.

A much-reduced Policing Board remains operative but has no legal authority to oversee the work of the PSNI due to the collapse of Stormont.

Normally the board has 19 members – 10 political appointees and nine independent members – but due to the failure to reinstate the Northern Executive there has been no Stormont Minister of Justice to appoint political members.

Moreover, the tenure of three of the independent members has concluded with the result that there are now just six members of the board who have no real powers to oversee and hold the PSNI to account.

Ms Bradley is expected to announce that she will bring forward legislation in the autumn to re-establish the board before Westminster goes into recess, according to sources.

Ms Bradley will bring a public appointments Bill to the House of Commons that would allow a reconstituted board carry out its statutory functions, it is understood.

These include some urgent senior police and staff appointments. They include a replacement for deputy PSNI chief constable Drew Harris, who is taking over as Garda Commissioner, and appointing a new assistant chief constable to replace Will Kerr who first moved to the British National Crime Agency and is now taking up a senior role with Police Scotland.

Earlier this month Ms Bradley told the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee that she would make a statement about the board before the British parliamentary recess.

She also recently met the chairwoman of the board Anne Connolly who has described the board’s lack of power and authority as “deeply concerning”. And she has also complained of the “impact the current democratic deficit is having on the operation of the board and policing in Northern Ireland in general”.