A Co Down-born police commander has seen off competition from senior officers in London and Dublin to be named the PSNI’s new Chief Constable.
Mr Hamilton was vying with Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick and Garda Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne for the high- profile £195,000-a-year job.
The father-of-four from Bangor was the only officer in the PSNI eligible to apply for the post after the Policing Board, which is the PSNI’s oversight body, opted to retain the controversial criterion which required all candidates to have served at senior command level outside Northern Ireland.
He served as assistant chief constable in Strathclyde from 2009 to 2011 and also worked in England for three years on a range of police training and organisational development projects
Mr Hamilton first joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1985 and steadily worked his way through the ranks, including detective superintendent, detective chief inspector and district commander.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in politics and economics and a Masters in business administration. He is a member of the Institute of Directors and the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Leadership Association.
As Assistant Chief Constable to Mr Baggott, he is currently responsible for rural policing in Northern Ireland - an area which covers approximately 4,500 square miles (11,700 sq km) and a population of approximately 900,000.
A nine-member Policing Board appointment panel interviewed all three candidates throughout today.
The choice of Mr Hamilton was approved by Stormont Justice Minister David Ford.
Policing Board chair Anne Connolly said: “I am pleased to announce that the Policing Board has appointed ACC George Hamilton as the new PSNI Chief Constable. The position has been accepted and the formal date of appointment will be confirmed in the next number of days.
“ACC Hamilton brings wide-ranging experience to this important job and has the necessary skills to lead the PSNI forward.”
Ms Connolly also thanked the unsuccessful candidates.
“The Board was very impressed with the calibre of candidates who applied for the Chief Constable job. They had a vast amount of policing expertise and I would like to thank each of them for their interest,” she said. Mr Baggott is stepping down in the autumn after five years in the role.
The appointment of a former RUC officer with the support of Sinn Fein is politically significant.
DUP First Minister Peter Robinson and Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness both welcomed the selection of Mr Hamilton.
Mr Robinson said: “I congratulate George Hamilton on his appointment as the new Chief Constable for the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
“There is no doubt that the post of Chief Constable is a very challenging one. I am confident George will use his considerable experience gained over many years to deal with policing issues and help shape the future of policing in Northern Ireland.
“I pay tribute to outgoing Chief Constable Matt Baggott and thank him for the valuable contribution he has made to policing for the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland.”
Mr McGuinness said: “I congratulate George Hamilton on his appointment as Chief Constable of the PSNI. I wish him every success in his efforts to ensure the fair and democratic implementation of policing in the north of Ireland. Matt Baggott has led the PSNI through a period of considerable change over recent years and I thank him for his efforts and wish him every success in the future.”