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Lincolnshire Chief Constable Bill Skelly to retire in December

Officer wellbeing champion and fierce opponent of police degree system to leave service after 31 years.
Published - 17/06/2020 By - Gary Mason

Chief Constable Bill Skelly has announced he will step down from his role on December 18 after four years leading the force.

CC Skelly has been a champion of better officer wellbeing being embedded into policing and more recently has staged a legal fight with the College of Policing on the mandatory introduction of police degrees through the Police Education Qualification Framework (PEQF).

He twice sought a judicial review of the system which was dismissed for “technical reasons” he said.

He argued that the system had not been properly thought through and would diminish frontline resources in forces similar in size to his own because of high abstraction rates.

Despite strongly opposing compulsory degrees in the service he was no stranger to academic study having studied mathematics and physics at Edinburgh University, where he later completed an MBA. He also holds a Diploma in criminology from Cambridge.

Announcing his retirement today CC Skelly said: “I joined this force with an intention to look after my staff and to provide the public of Lincolnshire with the best possible service by making sure our resources were placed in the right place at the right time,” he said.

“We now have an established Wellbeing programme that means officers and staff are encouraged to look after both their physical and mental health as routine, not as an exception. Embedding that into culture is vital because the job they all carry out on a daily basis is highly pressured and can take its toll.

“I have also tried my best to persuade government that it needed to provide more funding for the people of Lincolnshire to give them the police service they deserve.   I hope that Government might hear this and deliver more funding in the months and years ahead.   We have been allocated the money to recruit an extra 130 officers as part of the national uplift but the conversation around better distribution of cash for policing has to continue.

“PCC Marc Jones has been a consistent and vocal supporter of improving the funding position and I know that he will continue to do so with my successor.”

Mr Skelly joined Lothian and Borders Police in 1990 and completed the command course at Bramshill in 2004.

He joined Devon and Cornwall Police from Police Scotland as Deputy Chief Constable in 2013 where he had been working on the safety and security of the 2014 Commonwealth Games

He is a keen supporter of celebrating policing history and was the founding Chair of the South West Police Heritage Trust.  On reflecting on his own journey, he expresses his values that developed as a child growing up in Scotland “as a deep desire for fairness and justice; an abhorrence for the abuse of power and bullying in every sense.” 

Policing career highlights include leading the Immigration Crime Team at New Scotland Yard and being appointed in 2008 as Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland.

But it is his work in Lincolnshire around reassuring rural communities, working with partners across the county in all areas, and his commitment to the wellbeing of all his officers and staff that has made him the proudest, he said.   

In retirement Mr Skelly also hopes to explore other opportunities to contribute to community wellbeing and added:  “It’s been a privilege and an honour to lead this force.  There have been many challenges during my four years as Chief here in Lincolnshire and what I’ve seen is a workforce who constantly rise up and respond to any difficulties put in their path.  I am proud to have been amongst colleagues who come into work day in, and day out, determined to make a difference and improve the lives of others wherever they can.”   

Since joining the force CC Skelly has been living with his wife Jane close to Police HQ in Nettleham. On retirement he intends to spend some more time with his two adult daughters and wider family once he hands over the force reins.

Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to have appointed and then worked with Chief Constable Skelly in our joint aim of keeping the communities of Lincolnshire safe.

“Bill has left Lincolnshire Police a very different Force to the one he joined in 2017 and it’s no exaggeration to say that his mark will be felt for years to come.”

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