The North's new chief constable has vowed to build on the work of the man he will succeed, Hugh Orde.
Matt Baggott, currently head of Leicestershire police in England, pledged to work with the people of the North to keep policing moving forward.
Last night the 50-year-old father of three from south London was the unanimous choice of the NI Policing Board’s seven-strong interview panel to take over from Orde when he steps down next month.
“I am absolutely delighted to have been given this opportunity to lead the PSNI and serve the community as Chief Constable,” he said.
“The PSNI has come through a significant change programme and I look forward to using my experience to build on the progress to date in the delivery of a professional policing service to all the people of Northern Ireland.”
Baggott, who is chairman of the Christian Police Association, spoke of his faith as he gave his reaction to his appointment to the £184,000 (€214,000)-a-year post.
He also acknowledged the job he was taking on was complex, but stressed he was joining an excellent team in the PSNI.
“It’s going to be a huge privilege and I’m going to work with an incredibly effective team and obviously build on Sir Hugh Orde’s legacy,” he said.
A former assistant chief with the West Midlands Police who also has 20 years experience with the London Met, Mr Baggott beat off competition from three other shortlisted candidates during yesterday’s interview process at board headquarters.
The ones to miss out were: Jim Gamble, chief executive of Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre; Durham police chief Jon Stoddart and head of West Mercia police Paul West.
Policing Board chairman Barry Gilligan said Mr Baggott had exactly the credentials they were looking for.
“There is no doubt that the chief constable job here is challenging, demanding and carries a high profile,” he said.
“Matt Baggott has an impressive track record and in leading the PSNI forward his policing experiences will bring a new perspective to the delivery of the policing service here.”
Mr Gilligan said Baggott’s advocacy of neighbourhood policing marked him out.
“He has been a champion of policing in the community that goes to the very core of what this policing board is all about,” he said.
The board chairman also commended Mr Baggott’s record in managing a police force on a tight budget.
Orde is leaving the PSNI next month after seven years at the helm. He is taking up the post of president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo).
His successor has the task of tackling the increasing threat from dissident republican terrorists in the face of a dwindling budget, which was slashed by £120m (€140m) for the period 2008-11.
In addition, he will have to manage the transition required when policing and justice powers are devolved from Westminster to Stormont – a politically sensitive move which is expected within the next six months.
Crime rates have also risen in the North in the past year following a steady period of decline – a setback the PSNI has put down to a number of factors, one being the effect of the recession.
The board’s choice was rubber stamped by the Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward.
“I am delighted that the board has reached unanimous agreement on the appointment of Matt Baggott as the new Chief Constable to succeed Sir Hugh Orde,” he said.
The appointment was the first since Sinn Féin agreed to support policing in the region and joined the board.