PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton: politicians ‘are playing blame game’

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, ahead of the lecture "Reflections on Policing with the Community" at Queen's University Belfast. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, ahead of the lecture "Reflections on Policing with the Community" at Queen's University Belfast. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Politicians are “shifting the blame” for the “stalling” peace process, the PSNI’s chief constable has said.

George Hamilton said he was disappointed by public representatives who sympathised in private then publicly claimed there was no confidence in policing.

The departing chief of the PSNI said his work had been an at times painful experience, sometimes feeling part of progress but on occasion stuck or pulled backwards.

He said: “I therefore find it disappointing when politicians from all parties give me tea and sympathy on the issue in private but in public talk of our failures in dealing with legacy and how this has created ‘rock bottom confidence’ in policing or partisan policing by only pursuing state actors ... that is not effective accountability, that is point scoring – it is shifting the blame.

“What policing needs on this issue is political honesty and leadership to bring about solutions. Families need that leadership and honesty, too.

“I think it is a damning indictment, that in the ongoing political vacuum, members of grieving families are passing away without any resolution, without justice and without answers.”

Legacy mechanisms to investigate wrongdoing during the Troubles have not yet begun work.

Stormont power-sharing has been suspended for around two and a half years.

Mr Hamilton said: “Across the political spectrum, those who should bear responsibility for supporting further progress have too often defaulted to the blame game.

“They have retreated to their respective bunkers, finding it easier to blame the police without taking any responsibility for the context in which police are being asked to operate.”

Mr Hamilton expressed frustration at the collapse of his scrutiny body, the Policing Board, along with the devolved institutions.

He addressed a meeting at Queen’s University Belfast last night with his reflections on policing with the community.

Mr Hamilton is in his final two months as chief constable and said there was still little sign of progress.

He added: “A restored (Stormont) Executive would have the opportunity, and I believe the community support, to take brave steps to reset our transformation agenda.”