Cumbria

Cumbria's new Chief Constable Michelle Skeer 'proud' of role

Michelle Skeer
Image caption Michelle Skeer has been with the Cumbria force since 1990 and says she is "passionate about policing"

Cumbria's new police chief has said it is a "great honour" to be appointed to the post nearly 28 years after starting work as an officer in the county.

Michelle Skeer, who formally takes up the role on Sunday, is the force's first permanent chief constable.

She was deputy chief constable during its inquiry - later criticised by the police watchdog - into the death of toddler Poppi Worthington in 2012.

Ms Skeer said the force now offers a "very different policing service".

'Unstructured and disorganised'

She said: "It is a good workforce, with some quality staff.

"They have dealt with a number of major incidents, including two major floods, and the Derrick Bird shootings.

"But also, day in day out there are those that are not on such a big scale, where officers still put themselves in harm's way.

"Even with the recent snow issues, officers were working long hours just to make sure members of the public were safe."

The force was criticised for its "unstructured and disorganised" investigation of the death of 13-month-old Poppi, from Barrow.

In January, a coroner ruled that before her death she was sexually abused by her father, who continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Ms Skeer was personally criticised by the Barrow-in Furness MP John Woodcock, who said she should not be given the job unless she committed to an inquiry into police failings around the case.

She said: "People have different opinions and that's part of being a leader, but you expect there will be some criticism of the role because your name is at the top of the door.

"I commissioned a second investigation, which has never been criticised, and led all the review work, which led to good grading by HMIC."

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