New PSNI leadership will need to work to restore confidence in policing – MLA

New PSNI leadership will need to work to restore confidence in policing – MLA

The leadership of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) will have a “job of work” to restore confidence in policing, a Sinn Fein MLA has said.

News that Simon Byrne had resigned with immediate effect from the top job in the PSNI came during an emergency meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board in Belfast on Monday.

The board continued to meet for several hours after being notified of Mr Byrne’s decision following a string of controversies.

Board members agreed to prioritise the recruitment of a new chief constable, as well as initiating a review of the senior leadership team of the PSNI and requesting the Department of Justice commissions a review of the Policing Board itself.

Speaking after the meeting, Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said the new senior policing team, when they come in, will have a “job of work to do” to rebuild confidence in policing, which he described as being at a “low ebb”.

DUP MLA Trevor Clarke said Mr Byrne’s journey with the PSNI has come to an end and they want to see the police service “rebuilt”.

“The processes have commenced now in terms of an appointment of the chief constable’s position and I think rank-and-file officers should take some confidence in that, that their concerns are being addressed and that we’re looking for a way forward in terms of getting a new chief constable to start the long road in terms of the process to rebuild the organisation to what it should be,” he said.

Alliance MLA Nuala McAllister said her party has been clear that the issue is “not just about one individual or any individual … that there is a crisis”.

“That’s why any review that takes place of the senior management team of the PSNI must be done so in a timely manner, and we must see real actions and recommendations from that review,” she said.

UUP MLA Mike Nesbitt said the resignation of Mr Byrne will “not be the end of the matter”.

“There are several issues to be resolved within the PSNI so I consider this to be the beginning … this continues to be a crisis but we have now started a resolution,” he said.

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said Mr Byrne’s resignation was “inevitable”, adding this is an opportunity to find some certainty around the future of the police service.