New interim Chief Constable welcomed but faces ‘frightening in-tray’
The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) says a ‘frightening in-tray’ awaits the newly appointed interim Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher.
PFNI Chair, Liam Kelly, said: “I welcome this appointment and called for this to happen over six weeks ago. I hope it will start to bring some badly needed stability to a Service that is on the ropes.
“We desperately need responsive,visible leadership and an ability to work through the list of very significant issues that need to be addressed at speed.
“I wish Jon Boutcher well as he takes over this interim appointment. The in-tray that awaits him is frightening. He will have to tackle the fallout from the data breaches as well as the loss of trust and confidence from the Judicial Review which found that his predecessor and the current Deputy Chief Constable acted unlawfully in the case of the two officers involved in the Ormeau Rd incident.
“An important first step towards re-building officer morale and restoring internal confidence would be an early announcement by Mr Boutcher that he will not be appealing the Judicial Review decision. As far as this Federation is concerned, he will be pushing an open door. We are fully committed to working collaboratively, positively, and constructively with him to fix what’s broken.
“He needs to advocate better to Government for the allocation of an effective budget so our depleted police service can start to regrow. Recruitment, remuneration and retention are vital components in bringing PSNI out of the resourcing crisis that it is in. The downward trajectory cannot continue as it will have serious adverse consequences for the police service that can be provided.
“There is also a damaging long standing perception amongst the men and women I represent that there’s a culture of unequal and disproportionate disciplinary processes and sanctions being applied to them. This has primarily caused a serious and worrying disconnect between the ranks and fuelled an unhealthy “them and us” belief. He needs to formulate an initial clear plan and demonstrate that all officers and staff are appreciated and valued, will be treated equitably, and will be properly supported when carrying out their functions and duties.
“I will hopefully be meeting Mr Boutcher shortly and look forward to a positive and productive relationship with him as he takes up his post.”