Paul Kernaghan was born and raised in Northern Ireland. He served in the Ulster Defence Regiment 1974 – 1977, being commissioned in January 1976. In 1978 he joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary as a Graduate Entrant and served throughout Northern Ireland before moving to West Midlands Police as a Superintendent. In 1995 he became the Assistant Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police later becoming the force’s designated Deputy Chief Constable.
On 21st September 1999 he was appointed as the Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary. Originally appointed on a seven year contract, the Police Authority extended his tenure for a further two years. In his role as the force’s ‘Diversity Champion’ he oversaw a marked change in organisational culture which saw significant numbers of female officers achieve high rank and the force consistently receive external recognition for its work on promoting diversity based on adherence to core values such as equality and advancement purely on merit. He commanded a high profile nationally and expressed strong views on the need for more effective sentencing of convicted criminals and the failure to consult the Police on the role they could potentially play in rebuilding post war Iraq.
Nationally he was the Association of Chief Police Officers lead for International Affairs, and was at the forefront of seeking to ensure the UK’s police forces were better able to support peace support operations overseas and in particular he visited Iraq on five occasions.
Mr Kernaghan studied Law at Queen’s University of Belfast graduating in 1978 with an LL B (Hons). In 1994 he was awarded an MA (Public Order) from the University of Leicester. He also held a Post-Graduate Diploma in Personnel Management [DPM] and was a Graduate/Member of the Royal College of Defence Studies [RCDS].
In 2008, he took the decision to retire as Chief Constable in order to seek new challenges. In 2009 he was appointed as the Head of Mission, EUPOL COPPS [EU Special Adviser]. In 2010 he was appointed as the first ever House of Lords’ Commissioner for Standards.