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Two chiefs departing to take up dual policing and fire inspection roles

Lee Freeman and Michelle Skeer will leave their respective forces this summer to become new inspectors of police and fire and rescue services from August.
Published - 27/04/2023 By - Cash Boyle

The officer who oversaw Humberside Police's transformation to the top-performing force in the country has described the decision to depart after six years as "incredibly difficult".

Chief constable Lee Freeman has been widely praised for his work since taking over his home force in May 2017, which under his stewardship has gone from being in special measures to receiving an 'Outstanding' rating from HMICFRS.

It was announced on Thursday that he will be leaving the force this summer, having been appointed to a dual role as His Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary in England and Wales and Inspector of Fire and Rescue in England alongside Cumbria chief Michelle Skeer.

CC Freeman said: “Of course I am delighted to receive this public appointment. However, making the decision to leave has been incredibly difficult. Humberside is my home force, and one that I have always felt privileged to have been able to lead over the last six years.

“I leave an outstanding force, with strong leadership throughout the organisation, an outstanding workforce, 750 more police officers swelling our ranks than what I inherited, and a strong financial base from which colleagues can ensure that the force continues to improve even further.”

PCC Jonathan Evison said: "Chief Constable Freeman has been an exemplary and transformational leader of Humberside Police for the past six years and has seen the force achieve the best independent inspection grades of any force in the country. 

“I know he will apply his leadership and experience to his new role with HMICFRS with great success, making a further contribution to policing on a national level." 

CC Michelle Skeer

CC Skeer has been Cumbria's chief since March 2018, having first joining the force in 1990.

She admits to leaving a "great force" with "mixed emotions", adding: "I am proud to lead the Officers and Staff at Cumbria Constabulary who face difficult situations daily and work hard to protect those who are vulnerable or need our help, tackle crime and bring offenders to justice.

“I have enjoyed every moment of my career in policing and am lucky to have worked at every rank across the force. It has been a great honour for me to serve the communities of Cumbria in the role of Chief Constable in recent years."

While "extremely sorry" to lose his chief constable, PCC Peter McCall commended CC Skeer for serving Cumbria "with distinction for 33 years including some very difficult policing and organisational challenges".

"She leaves the force with more officers than we have ever had and with the force highly rated nationally, delivering exceptional service to the residents of Cumbria, she will be a hard act to follow," he added.

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