Page last updated at 12:09 GMT, Tuesday, 22 September 2009 13:09 UK

Baggott to 'take police forward'

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott says there are a number of big challenges ahead

Matt Baggott has called his new role as the head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland his "greatest professional privilege".

The 50-year-old replaced Sir Hugh Orde and is the third leader of NI's rebranded police force.

At a press conference, along with Policing Board Chairman Barry Gilligan, Mr Baggott said he was here "to take policing forward into the future".

He added he would "deliver an impartial, personal policing service".

The married father-of-three comes to the PSNI after seven years as chief constable of the Leicestershire Constabulary.

Mr Baggott takes over at a time of shrinking police budgets and a surge in dissident republican activity.

When asked about recent discussions around the PSNI budget Mr Baggott said it was his job get the "best use out of the resources we have".

I don't think neighbourhood policing should be judged by a tragedy
Matt Baggott
PSNI chief constable

"I've come here with a record of challenging bureaucracy, challenging processes. I need to free people up to improve that policing presence," he said

"This is not something I'm starting. This is work that has been ongoing for a long time, there is an awful lot of good people doing very good work in neighbourhoods at the moment."

Mr Baggot was also asked for his reaction to the death of Fiona Pilkington and her teenage disabled daughter in 2007.

Last week an inquest in Leicestershire heard Ms Pilkington killed herself and her daughter in a burning car following ongoing intimidation from a gang of youths.

She had contacted police more than 30 times about abuse claims, the last report on the day she died.

"It would be wrong to judge neighbourhood policing, or the effectiveness of neighbourhood policing in Leicester by one tragedy," said Chief Constable Baggott.

"There has been some enormous progress made over the last few years in delivering very consistent promises, a good street presence and dealing with anti-social behaviour and I don't think neighbourhood policing should be judged by a tragedy."

Operation Descent

The threat from dissident republicans in the run up to Mr Baggott's appointment led to a police operation.

Within the last month there has been the discovery of a 600lb bomb in a border area and civil disturbances in Lurgan.

Operation Descent has seen an increase in vehicle checkpoints and high visibility patrols.

The threat from dissident republicans while not in the same league as that once posed by the IRA is deadly.

Two soldiers and a police officer have been killed by dissidents in 2009.

The murders were condemned across the political spectrum, with the leadership of mainstream republicanism branding the dissidents "traitors".

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