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Dorset is latest force to see Chief head for the exit

Dorset has become the latest force to begin looking for a new Chief Constable. James Vaughan said he had delayed the decision to step down because of COVID-19.
Published - 27/05/2021 By - Chris Smith

Dorset’s Chief Constable has announced he will retire in the autumn after three years at the top.

James Vaughan is stepping down after a 29-year career with two forces.

He joined Dorset Police as Assistant Chief Constable in May 2012 after starting his career with Wiltshire.

Mr Vaughan said he had given the option to “seriously consider retirement” some thought but had delayed it because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He will help new Police and Crime Commissioner David Sidwick (Con) finalise the official crime plan, set a crucial budget and recruit his successor before leaving.

But it also means the force will become another that doesn’t have experienced leads at the top. More than a third have recruited new Chiefs over the last 12 months.

CC Vaughan has played a critical role in rebuilding forensic support after the service came close to collapse. His role as national lead for forensic science included creating the change programme needed through the Transforming Forensics programme. 

He will also be leaving a force that is in a solid position; it was rated ‘good’ across all areas in its last PEEL assessment.

But HMI warned it needed to do more work on diversity in the ranks and was noted to stops and carried out stop and searches on a disproportionately high number of people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds compared with other forces.

It brings to an end a career that started in uniform with Wiltshire in 1992. He rose through the ranks and joined Dorset Police as Assistant Chief Constable in May 2012 – just in time to help deliver policing for the Olympic events.

After his promotion to Deputy Chief Constable in 2013, Chief Constable Vaughan led on strategic change, planning, performance and professional standards.

He was appointed DCC in 2017 before getting the top job in 2018, the same year he was awarded the QPM.

CC Vaughan said: “I began to seriously consider retirement this time last year but delayed my decision due to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which I chaired the Local Resilience Forum to coordinate the joint response to the emergency.

"Moving forward into this year I chose to delay any announcements on retirement to ensure they did not distract candidates and the electorate in the Police and Crime Commissioner elections.”

He predicted that the force would go up the performance tables in the next round of inspections: “I set our organisation the vision of becoming a police force that provides an outstanding service to the people of Dorset; particularly the most vulnerable and I have every belief that this is achievable over the coming years. 

He added: “It has been an extraordinary honour and a privilege to lead Dorset Police in a variety of chief officer roles over the last nine years.

"This is a period in my professional life that I will cherish. Without doubt, the last year has proved to me that this county is made up of strong and caring communities and I am proud to call it my home.”

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner David Sidwick said: “He leaves a tremendous legacy and the force is well equipped to meet future demands and tests.

"Dorset Police is in a strong position, with higher officer numbers, and the foundations to make the county the safest in the UK. I wish him all the very best when he leaves later this summer.” 

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