The four main Church leaders in Northern Ireland have expressed satisfaction over their first meeting with the new PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott.
The meeting between Cardinal Seán Brady, Church of Ireland Archbishop Alan Harper, Methodist President Rev Donald Kerr and Presbyterian Moderator Rev Dr Stafford Carson with Chief Constable Baggott took place in Cardinal Brady’s home in Armagh and lasted for one and a half hours.
They discussed issues such as the importance of developing community policing, the current security situation and anti-social behaviour in society.
Speaking after the meeting, Catholic Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Brady said, “We asked for today’s introductory meeting with Chief Constable Baggott to welcome him in his new role as Chief Constable of the PSNI and to discuss some of the significant issues currently facing our society.”
He added that the meeting gave them “an opportunity to discuss ways to improve cooperation between local communities and the PSNI”. Cardinal Brady said they believed that “the common good is best served by such a positive working relationship and we call on everyone to support the police service.”
Chief Constable Baggott described the meeting as very important. He underlined that “Churches play an influential part in giving us a sense of community.” He added, “I know that frontline police commanders engage regularly with religious and community leaders in their areas. I believe that we have a common goal in creating a safe, confident and peaceful Northern Ireland.
Mr Baggott, who is a committed Christian, said he looked forward “to a growing and positive partnership with religious leaders across all communities.”
Speaking after the meeting, the Chief Constable said he believed it was important for him to talk to the Church leaders early in his time there.
He described the Churches’ role over the years in Northern Ireland and “especially through some of the worst times” as a “force for stability and good”. He added that they had “a crucial role to play as we continue to move forward and develop as a society.”
Presbyterian Moderator Dr Stafford Carson said they were extremely grateful to the Chief Constable Baggott for the meeting. “His extensive experience of community policing and clear leadership skills will be of great benefit to the people of Northern Ireland in the years ahead,” he said.
Mr Baggott took up his current role in September 2009. He spent the first twenty years of his service with the Metropolitan Police, where his career was focused on the inner city, notably Tooting, Brixton and Peckham, as well as leading policy reviews on issues such as partnership, regeneration and inner city crime.
For 18 months he was staff officer to the then Commissioner, Sir Paul Condon, and headed the Metropolitan Police team assisting the Stephen Lawrence Public Inquiry.
He was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in June 2004 and he was further honoured in the 2008 New Years Honours list with a CBE.