New Police Council to be Inaugurated on January 1 Skip to content

New Police Council to be Inaugurated on January 1

By Ragnar Tómas

Áslaug Arna
Photo: Golli.

A new Police Council under the chairmanship of the National Commissioner of the Police will begin operations on January 1 next year, RÚV reports. The new council was introduced by Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir at the Minister’s residence in Reykjavík yesterday.

Kjartan Þorkelsson, Chief of Police of South Iceland, will temporarily replace Haraldur Johannessen as the National Commissioner of the Police at the start of the new year. Haraldur, who has occupied the position for 22 years, has negotiated the terms of his departure with Áslaug Arna and will initially assume an advisory role for the Ministry of Justice.

An Official Forum for Cooperation

The Police Council will serve as an official forum for Iceland’s police chiefs, aiming to increase cooperation between regional police chiefs and to contribute to more efficient use of funds. The council also aims to ensure police authorities better fulfil their duties to the public.

The Police Council will not exercise independent authority nor make policy decisions. The National Commissioner of the Police will continue to direct law-enforcement matters on behalf of the Minister of Justice but will consult with the Police Council regarding any significant decisions.

Soon to be Advertised

In her speech yesterday, Áslaug Arna stated that the office of the National Commissioner of the Police will be advertised soon. Acting Commissioner Kjartan Þorkelsson has revealed that he will not be applying for the office.

The current organisation of police districts in Iceland was signed into law on December 4, 2014, by then Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson. Áslaug Arna stated that the present moment was an auspicious time to rethink the organisation. Haraldur Johannesson’s role as National Commissioner has proved controversial of late, with many police officers and regional police chiefs expressing dissatisfaction with Haraldur’s actions in office.

A Lack of Cooperation

“Over the past few weeks we have reviewed the system in its entirety,” Áslaug Arna stated, adding that the new organisational changes aim to make police authorities operate better as a unified whole. Matters of dispute that she personally reviewed all share one thing in common: lack of cooperation between police districts.

In her speech, Áslaug Arna added that while many police-related affairs call for localised solutions, others require a more comprehensive review, which the National Commissioner and the Police Council will oversee. The council aims to prevent needless repetition, to reduce redundancy, and to transfer endemic police assignments to specialised units.

The Minister of Justice is also considering other changes, including a possible merger of regional police districts.

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