Cleveland Police seeking new chief constable as Richard Lewis quits

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Cleveland Police chief constable Richard LewisImage source, Cleveland Police
Image caption,
Chief constable Richard Lewis said he wanted to return to Wales for family reasons

A troubled police force is looking for its seventh chief constable in less than a decade as its top officer is to leave after two years in charge.

Richard Lewis took up the role with Cleveland Police in April 2019.

He has been announced as the preferred candidate for the chief constable's job with his former force, Dyfed-Powys Police.

Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Steve Turner said Mr Lewis had "achieved a great deal".

Formerly deputy chief constable of Dyfed-Powys, Mr Lewis joined Cleveland after Mike Veale resigned in January 2019 after less than a year in the post.

He was tasked with turning around the force's fortunes but just one month after he started the job Cleveland Police was placed in special measures.

It was the first force in the country to be declared as failing.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services warned it had been "putting the public at risk" with staff telling the watchdog it was "directionless, rudderless and clueless".

'Achieve its vision'

In a statement, Mr Lewis said he wanted to return to Wales to be closer to family and it was not a decision he had "taken lightly".

Praising staff for their hard work, he said: "I have every faith that the force will achieve its vision of delivering outstanding policing for communities."

Mr Turner hailed the chief constable's efforts over the past two years.

"Richard has been at the helm of the improvements that we have seen at Cleveland Police and has achieved a great deal in his time here," the PCC said.

"It is now my responsibility to find a successor who can continue to build on these plans and further improve service delivery to local people."

Mr Turner said the new chief constable should be an "ethical and strong leader" who is committed to reducing serious violence in homes and on the streets.

The force covers areas including Hartlepool, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton and Middlesbrough.

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