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Former Cheshire police chief Simon Byrne appointed head of PSNI

Former Cheshire police chief Simon Byrne has been appointed the next PSNI chief constable. Credit: UTV

The former chief constable of Cheshire Constabulary Simon Byrne has been appointed the next chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The senior policeman, who has more than three decades of experience in policing, began his career at the Metropolitan Police before moving to Merseyside.

In 2009 he became deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester Police and in 2014 was appointed the top role with Cheshire Constabulary.

Last year he was cleared of misconduct within the police force.

Mr Byrne was up against three other candidates, including two senior PSNI officers, to replace George Hamilton when he retires next month.

Independent recruitment specialists were brought in to oversee the process after Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said she wouldn’t want to see someone within the PSNI getting the role over its failure to disclose legacy documents to the Police Ombudsman.

Northern Ireland's Policing Board chair Anne Connolly said: "Mr Byrne brings a wealth of strategic and operational policing experience to the role, he has 36 years of policing experience, 21 years as a Chief Officer and almost eight as a chief constable serving the Metropolitan Police, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cheshire.

"We are looking forward to working with him in further developing the PSNI as a highly professional and community focused organisation."

Outgoing chief constable George Hamilton congratulated his successor on Friday evening.

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The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) also welcomed his appointment.

PFNI Chair, Mark Lindsay, said Mr Byrne will immediately face a series of significant challenges including legacy, how the organisation is resourced and the ongoing ‘severe’ threat that is posed by dissident republicans.

Mr Lindsay said: “The PFNI welcomes this appointment. Mr Byrne will have to be across the range of issues that will fill his in-tray from day one. He has considerable operational experience and I wish him well in this new and very demanding role.

“I can assure him of the support and goodwill of this organisation in working collaboratively with him for the welfare and in the best interests of our men and women who deliver professional and courageous policing day and daily to all the people of Northern Ireland.

“I also wish to extent best wishes to Chief Constable George Hamilton and to wish him well in his retirement.”