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'Loss of wisdom' amid chief constable exodus

At least six forces will soon be competing for the same talent
Published - 09/05/2018 By - Ian Weinfass - Police Oracle

Some 12 per cent of police forces in England and Wales are now recruiting for a new chief constable, just over a year after warnings were aired over a lack of available talent to fill vacancies.

Recent weeks have seen five chief constables and a Met assistant commissioner announce they are leaving the police service.

These include the national leads for some of the most high profile and challenging portfolios – digital policing, volunteering, aviation and performance management.

North Wales Chief Constable Mark Polin, the head of the Chief Police Officers’ Staff Association, is also leaving the service.

Durham Constabulary Chief Constable Mike Barton has been in post since 2012 and in policing for 38 years, and is not retiring.

He told Police Oracle: “The loss of wisdom at the top is a concern. It is a worry but the next generation, with our support, will have to do the business.”

On why chiefs might want to leave, he said: “That there are so many changes to pension rules means sometimes people have to make decisions that are best for their families. I know it can be the case that it isn't financially sound to stay, you would effectively be paying the government to stay in."

There have already been concerns raised about the lack of candidates for chief constable jobs, with a Police Oracle analysis revealing most chiefs appointed in 2015 had been the only candidate for their job.

Last year chiefs noted an imminent shortage of would-be chief officers being trained to meet upcoming vacancies, but the NPCC urged the government not to introduce direct entry at the top level of the service.

Former British Transport Police chief Andy Trotter told Police Oracle: “I don’t remember such a number of chiefs retiring at the same time though I don’t know if you can read too much into it – there is a whole new life outside where you can relax a bit more.

“The pressures have always been great but I think they have become more personal, the focus is now very much on the chief especially in the media.

“On the recruitment side, police and crime commissioners often know the deputy and people aren’t going to risk running if they don’t think they have a chance.

“In the past people had to move around to different forces before becoming a chief constable and I think a fresh face at the top is helpful.”

Chief constable retirements announced in April and May (so far):

CC Mark Polin - North Wales – head of CPOSA. Length of service: 35 years.

CC Simon Edens – Northants – head of the NPCC performance management committee. 37 years.

CC Dave Jones – North Yorks – NPCC lead for citizens in policing. 32 years.

CC Stephen Kavanagh – Essex – NPCC lead for digital policing. 33 years.

CC Alec Wood – Cambs – NPCC lead for aviation. 32 years.

Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan – Met Police. 31 years.


At least six forces will now be competing among the same small pool of candidates in the coming months for a new chief constable and, in the Met, a new assistant commissioner – which is the

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