Canadian Mountie is North's new Ombudsman

A former Canadian Mountie is to become the new policing Ombudsman for the North.

Al Hutchinson, who has been in Belfast since 2001 to monitor the implementation of policing reforms, will take over from Nuala O’Loan next November.

The lucrative contract is worth €181,000 a year and can be held for up to seven years.

Northern Secretary Peter Hain, who confirmed Mr Hutchinson's appointment, said it was one of the most challenging positions within the public sector and he was pleased to secure the Mountie's services for such a vital position.

Mr Hain said: “Nuala O’Loan has done an outstanding job in establishing a reputation for rigour and independence and has set a template for the future.

“This appointment was made after a rigorous selection process which adhered to public appointment guidelines. I am impressed by the strong public record and extensive knowledge of policing issues in Northern Ireland that he will bring to the post.

“The role performed by the office of the Police Ombudsman and the accountability arrangements are viewed as a modern day model for police forces across the world and have set a very high standard for others to follow.”

Even though she remains in the job for another four months, Ms O’Loan is finalising reports on a number of major and difficult cases and is planning to have them published before leaving office.

Originally from Canada, Mr Hutchinson is a graduate of Carleton University, Ottawa and Queen’s University, Belfast. He served nearly 34 years in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) retiring at the senior executive rank as the Assistant Commissioner responsible for operations in Ontario, Canada’s largest province.

Mr Hutchison was a former chief of staff for the office of the Oversight Commissioner from its inception in 2001. He later took charge after the retirement of Tom Constantine in January 2004.

The role of the Oversight Commissioner was created to monitor the implementation of policing reforms.

Although totally independent, the Commissioner was required to report to British Parliament through the Northern Secretary three times a year. The Commissioner’s role has now effectively come to an end with the production of his last report in May.

Mr Hutchinson has experience of economic crime, drug enforcement, VIP protection, public order, human resources and organisational change management.

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