Sir Jeffrey - “focus must be on policing rather than politics”

DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP has said the appointment of a new permanent Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) should be the catalyst for restoring confidence in policing throughout Northern Ireland.

By Joanne Bunting MLA

Belfast East

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Commenting, Sir Jeffrey said:

‘‘I congratulate Jon Boutcher on his appointment to the substantive role of Chief Constable and wish him every success moving forward.

I also express my sincere gratitude to ACC Bobby Singleton for putting his name forward for consideration and wish him continued success with his career in Policing. He has much still to contribute.

There is a need for effective, efficient, and impartial policing in Northern Ireland. The recent ruling by Mr Justice Schofield laid bare that political considerations were influencing operational decisions. This has cemented longstanding concerns around two-tier policing. Such stumbling blocks to policing confidence must be removed.

The Democratic Unionist Party will be engaging with the new Chief Constable to hear his plans to restore confidence and improve relations with the Unionist community. This appointment must not be a false dawn. It should be a catalyst for delivering a Police Service that treats every tradition and community with a fair hand and avoids many of the own goals we have seen in recent times.

No-one underestimates the scale of the challenge. We need a clear focus on policing rather than politics. There is a huge deficit in the police budget and it is well documented that officer numbers are at their lowest ever level. This is already leading to a less visible police presence in our communities and in the future it will take longer to investigate crime.

Now that there is much-needed continuity within the PSNI senior command, it is essential that we see a renewed commitment on the part of the Government to provide policing with the additional resource it needs to tackle the serious challenges facing our communities head on.’’

DUP East Belfast MLA Joanne Bunting was the DUP representative on the appointment panel. She added:

“I welcome this appointment, which follows a robust, fair and transparent recruitment process undertaken by the Policing Board.

Both candidates boasted exceptional CVs and have displayed a cast-iron commitment to effective policing in Northern Ireland. Going forward, the PSNI will continue to benefit immensely from having senior officers of such high calibre in post.

I look forward to working with Jon as he leads the Service in addressing the serious issues currently impacting on confidence both inside and outside the PSNI - not least the perilous financial situation, risks to officers following the data breach and the increasingly sophisticated nature of crime.

As someone who has consistently shone a spotlight on two-tier policing, I also believe there is an onus on the new Chief Constable to deliver a step change in how the Service responds to legitimate concerns voiced by the Unionist community. Past mistakes must not be repeated. The rule of law must be applied without fear or favour and there can be no role for political interference in operational decisions.”

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