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Troubled force which has made improvements looking for new chief

By PA News

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A police force is to look for its seventh new chief constable in less than a decade.

Richard Lewis is standing down from Cleveland Police, which has been beset by scandal in recent years, and will take the post of chief constable of Dyfed-Powys in his native Wales.

Mr Lewis took over at Cleveland Police in 2019 and was praised by police and crime commissioner Steve Turner for improvements that have been made.

Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner who will lead the search for a new chief
Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner who will lead the search for a new chief

Mr Turner said the chief, paid £160,000 a year, was moving back to Wales to be with his family, and wished him well.

The PCC said: “I’ve spoken at length to Richard and know that he wants to move back to Wales for family reasons.

“As a family man myself, I can understand his decision-making and wish him well in his new role.

“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.

“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 should be an “ethical and strong leader” and who is committed to reducing serious violence in homes and on the streets.

He added: “I will leave no stone unturned to find the right chief constable, who shares my passion for the area and who will help me put the pride back into Cleveland Police.”

In September 2019 the force which covers Hartlepool, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton and Middlesbrough, became the first to be officially rated as failing in all areas.

Former chief constable Sean Price had been sacked for gross misconduct in 2012; officers were under investigation after journalists’ phones were unlawfully monitored, and there had been long-standing claims of racism within the ranks.

In February 2021, an official inspection deemed it to be improving, but the watchdog said there was still hard work to do.

Mr Lewis’s appointment to lead Dyfed-Powys is subject to the local police and crime panel’s approval, which is meeting at the end of the month.

He praised staff for their hard work in making improvements, adding: “I have every faith that the force will achieve its vision of delivering outstanding policing for communities.

“Leaving Cleveland Police is not a decision that I have taken lightly, and I have considered many different options, but I am moving back to Wales to be closer to family.

“I have now been announced as the preferred candidate to take up the role of chief constable of Dyfed-Powys, and I whilst I look forward to this new opportunity, I will always have a strong affinity to Teesside and its people.

“The Cleveland area is such a beautiful part of the world and our local people have a community spirit second to none.”

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