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UK's longest serving chief constable announces retirement

Leicestershire CC Simon Cole will leave in the Spring after 11 years as chief

Leicestershire is beginning its search for a new Chief Constable.

The force’s leader Simon Cole has announced he will retire in the Spring, bringing to an end a 33-year career in the Service.

He’s going out on a high with the force having been rated good by inspectors and with finances in good shape.

His official statement said: “The force is in good shape financially and operationally. During recent years, Leicestershire Police has been assessed as ‘good’ by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and this is something I am immensely proud of. I look forward to the results of our recent inspection.”

CC Cole’s career in policing nearly didn’t happen as his initial application was rejected because he is colour-blind.

His decision also means the National Police Chiefs’ Council will have to appoint a new lead for the Prevent programme – a tough role as the initiative has come under intense scrutiny in recent years.

His time at the top has spanned the entire austerity era.

CC Cole was appointed in 2010, just has the huge wave of cuts began hitting the service.

The relentless pace of the job caught up with him in 2013 when he took several months off but returned determined.

He was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 2014.

The Chief paid tribute to colleagues across the force: “I am proud to have served with officers, staff and volunteers who give so much every day. I would like to thank my colleagues for their tireless dedication, commitment and professionalism.

“Every day for more than a decade their unstoppable acts of bravery, compassion and determination have motivated me. They have reminded me daily why I became a police officer and the positive difference it makes. It has been a privilege to lead this force in such a vibrant city and two stunningly beautiful counties.”

He added: “I am extraordinarily grateful to all those who have supported me in policing - and to all those who choose to make a career in it. It is brilliant. It is tough. And it is of a value and importance almost immeasurable.”

His career began has a graduate entry with West Midlands Police where he swiftly rose through the uniformed ranks as well as being Staff Officer to the Chief Constable and a Detective Inspector.

After taking the Strategic Command Course in 2001, he joined Hampshire as Assistant Chief Constable.

He has since worked on a variety of national portfolios including mental health and disability – which led to initiatives on Places of Safety, Liaison and diversion from custody.

CC Cole led nationally for the NPCC on disability issues until March 2016; focusing work on autism, accessibility and dementia.

Other national work include local and response policing, contact management/101, troubled families, vetting and crime statistics.

He can also claim one duty that is unlikely to be repeated: leading the re-interment of medieval king Richard III after the discovery of his grave under a car park.

When he was promoted to Leicestershire, it marked a return to the area where he had grown up and he highlighted his work with local groups as one of his achievements.

CC Cole said: “In particular, I am proud to have been able to strengthen Leicestershire Police by making it more representative of the people and communities we serve. I know that commitment and hard work will continue.

“Throughout, however, I have been happiest when I’ve seen how the force has delivered good service to the public and built trust in neighbourhoods and communities - whether it’s been safeguarding young people, tackling complex investigations, bringing county lines gangs and domestic abusers to justice, or just having a chat over a samosa or a pork pie at a local event.”

Away from policing, he has worked with both of Leicester’s universities and coached junior rugby.

He added: “I would like to thank my family for supporting me on this wonderful, demanding journey. Policing has asked much of them, too, and I am impossibly grateful.”

Mr Cole has worked with three Police and Crime Commissioners from different political backgrounds.

Current PCC Rupert Matthews, said: “On behalf of the residents of our city and two counties, I would like to formally thank the Chief Constable for 12 years of exceptional service. His commitment has, throughout that period, been unswerving and we live in a safer place thanks to his leadership.”

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