Jon Boutcher facing mammoth task as new PSNI chief constable

Jon Boutcher has been appointed as Northern Ireland's new police chief constable.

Mr Boutcher previously headed up Bedfordshire police, and has led the PSNI on an interim basis since 12 October.

The top job was vacated after former chief constable Simon Byrne stood down in September, following a series of controversies.

Interviews for the £220,000-a-year role took place at the Policing Board on Monday, before the appointment was confirmed by the secretary of state.

Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton was the only other person in the running.

Who is Jon Boutcher?

Mr Boutcher applied to become PSNI chief constable in 2019, but lost out to Mr Byrne.

He previously served as chief constable of Bedfordshire Police, and led it to being the most improved police force in the UK.

He left that role in 2019 and was appointed to lead the Operation Kenova investigation into activities surrounding the Army's top agent in the IRA, an alleged individual codenamed Stakeknife, named as Freddie Scappaticci.

Jon Boutcher has a long history in operational counter terrorism and crime policing.

He was also the UK national policing lead for technical surveillance, covert policing and undercover policing and held the post of national coordinator for pursue under the UK Contest strategy. 

In his early career Jon led Scotland Yard’s ‘Flying Squad’ tackling armed robbery and other serious crime.

He became PSNI interim chief constable on 12 October following in the absence of Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton who had to take a leave of absence for an unplanned medical procedure.

What is in the chief constable's in-tray?

Jon Boutcher has previously admitted there is a “big list of things which need to be sorted” in the PSNI.

The service has faced a number of recent controversies, including a series of data breaches, the most significant of which saw personal details of all officers and staff published online.

The Police Federation of Northern Ireland, which represents rank and file officers, has voiced the concern and anger of officers over the breach.

In August, a critical High Court ruling that said two junior officers had been unlawfully disciplined for their actions at a Troubles commemoration event.

Mr Boutcher has already confirmed the PSNI will not appeal the ruling.

The terrorism threat level in Northern Ireland was raised from 'substantial' to 'severe' earlier this year, following an increase in attacks on officers.

Dissident republicans were blamed for the attempted murder of DCI John Caldwell in February when the off-duty senior officer was shot at a sports complex in Omagh.

DCI Caldwell suffered life-changing injuries in the attack.

The PSNI also faces a budget crisis, with senior officers estimating that security and legal costs from the major data breach could potentially cost £240m.

In October, the Supreme Court issued a ruling on a long-running legal claim over holiday pay, which could see the PSNI having to make back payments of tens of millions of pounds.

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