New PSNI interim chief constable formally confirmed to be Jon Boutcher

The Policing Board has confirmed the appointment of the new Chief Constable following approval by the Secretary of State.

The Northern Ireland Policing Board has confirmed the appointment of the new interim Chief Constable of the PSNI to be Jon Boutcher QPM.

This follows reports last week that Mr Boutcher was chosen as the preferred candidate by the Policing Board.

Jon Boutcher took his attestation of service today with Justice of the Peace Adrian Huston.

The Chair of the Policing Board, Deirdre Toner, released a statement on X earlier today.

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland – the body that represents rank and file police officers – released a statement today.

“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.”

– Chair of the Police Federation, Liam Kelly

Political leaders have also reacted to the news of the appointment, which had to be approved by the Policing Board’s panel – which included representatives from Sinn Fein, the DUP and Alliance, along with independent members.

Sinn Fein’s member of the Policing Board, Gerry Kelly, welcomed the appointment.

“I welcome the decision by the panel set up by the Policing Board to appoint an Interim Chief Constable of the PSNI.

“Jon Boutcher is a very experienced police officer, he has recent experience of working here in the north and he is free to take up the reins with immediate effect.

“I don’t underestimate the scale of the challenges he faces in taking up the role of ICC at this time.

“There is clearly a job of work to do to rebuild trust and confidence in the police with the community, PSNI officers, staff and families following the huge data leak and the recent resignation of Simon Byrne.

“This is the time for all of us in political leadership, in the Policing Board and the PSNI to refocus on the task of delivering an efficient and effective policing service that works with and within the whole community impartially.

“To that end the process of appoint a new Chief Constable is now also under way and I wish Jon Boutcher well in carrying what will be a difficult task until that process is complete.” 

– Sinn Fein MLA, Gerry Kelly

The SDLP‘s member of the Policing Board, Mark H Durkan, also welcomed the appointment.

“I welcome the appointment of someone of the calibre of Jon Boutcher as interim Chief Constable of the PSNI. It has been an incredibly difficult few months for policing in the North that has significantly damaged public confidence in our police service and even threatened our new beginning to policing. The SDLP has dealt with Mr Boutcher throughout the Operation Kenova process and I have confidence that during his interim period in the role he will do all he can to steady the ship.

“The situation facing the PSNI is stark. We are still dealing with the fallout of the data breach which has taken a heavy toll on officers and staff, the current policing budget makes it impossible to provide the services that communities expect, the PSNI is also dealing with serious issues around morale and culture that need to be addressed and we still don’t have a police service that is truly representative of the people it serves. We need renewed and real efforts to recruit more officers from a nationalist background, from newcomer communities and from working class areas.

“Dealing with the problems facing our police service will require a long-term strategy and significant restructuring of both the PSNI and the Policing Board itself. We look forward to working with Mr Boutcher during his time in this role and will be seeking a meeting with him in the coming days. This is an important period for the PSNI ahead of the appointment of a permanent Chief Constable and Mr Boutcher will have our full support as he works to address the issues that have emerged in recent months.”

– SDLP MLA, Mark H Durkan

No other political parties have yet released any statements.

Picture: Belfast Telegraph

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