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Former PSNI chief claims leadership 'fudge' is hurting force

DCC Mark Hamilton has not officially been appointed as the interim or acting chief but instead is fulfilling those responsibilities when required.

The temporary leadership arrangements currently in place within the PSNI are "exacerbating" the issues at the top of the force, according to its former chief constable Sir George Hamilton.

Deputy chief constable Mark Hamilton is now the PSNI's most senior officer following the departure of Simon Byrne, but hasn't been temporarily promoted to the top rank.

Sir George believes this is to the detriment of thousands of PSNI officers and staff who “want to be led”.

“I have a concern that the current arrangements that the Policing Board have come up with is not going to provide that leadership, and that’s nothing to do with the individuals, it’s more a structural and a policy decision they have taken,” he told BBC Northern Ireland’s The View programme.

“They made a call that Mark Hamilton would not be appointed as the interim or acting chief constable but rather would be fulfilling the responsibilities of the chief constable when required as deputy chief constable.

“That to me is a failure of leadership on the part of the Policing Board, it puts Mark in an almost impossible position."

Board Chair Deirdre Toner has confirmed the selection process for a new chief should be completed in early November. 

The fact that DCC Hamilton was involved in the incident at a 2021 Troubles memorial event which formed the subject of a recent High Court ruling is another complicating factor.

Sir George said: "There is a question mark of course around Mark and his involvement in the Ormeau Road decision-making, and the comments from Mr Justice Scoffield in all of that.

“That is the subject of review and potentially investigation. I’m not saying he’s the right person, what I’m saying is this fudge that the Policing Board have come up with is actually exacerbating the leadership deficit at the top of the PSNI."

The PFNI has passed a vote of no confidence in DCC Hamilton as well as the force's chief operating officer Pamela McCreedy and assistant chief officer Clare Duffield.

DCC Hamilton was meant to attend the PFNI meeting at which that confidence vote was passed, but could not do so due to an unplanned medical procedure that has left him unable to return to work as of yet.

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