Cleveland police chief set for top job

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A POLICE chief who took the reins of a force when its leader was suspended is set to land the job full time.

Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Barry Coppinger has announced that he is recommending that Jacqui Cheer should be appointed as the force’s permanent chief constable.

The PCC, whose recommendation will now go to a confirmation hearing held by the area’s Police and Crime Panel, described Mrs Cheer, who has served as temporary chief constable since October 2011, as “an exceptional police officer”.

He said that she has done “a tremendous job in leading the force through a very challenging period”, adding:” She is, I believe, the right person to work with me in ensuring that policing in Cleveland reflects my priorities and the needs and concerns of local people”.

The Police and Crime Panel will hold a confirmation hearing to consider Mrs Cheer’s appointment on Tuesday, February 5.

Mrs Cheer was brought in after the force was left without a chief constable when Sean Price was suspended.

He was sacked in October last year after being found guilty of gross misconduct for lying to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) about his involvement in a recruitment matter and to have instructed a member of staff to lie.

Mrs Cheer was in the role of deputy chief constable for Suffolk when she was seconded to Cleveland.

She had spent 22 years working with Essex Police and the Home Office Reform Unit before joining the Suffolk force as assistant chief constable in 2006, leading the major investigation into the ‘Suffolk Strangler’ murders of five women in the Ipswich area.

She also serves as the lead on Children and Young People for the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Mr Coppinger added: “There can be no better demonstration of why she is the right person for the job than the figures issued this week which show that, on her watch, crime in Cleveland last year was the lowest on record.”

He also said that, because the Home Office prevented permanent appointments for a considerable period prior to elections for PCCs, there had been 14 chief constable vacancies to be filled across the country, leading to a shortfall of candidates.

Mrs Cheer was the only candidate for the Cleveland post, a situation which Mr Coppinger said was not unique.

He added that she had, however, undergone a selection process with three other candidates when given the temporary post.

The decision to recommend Mrs Cheer’s appointment was made by a panel including the commissioner, the former chief Constable of West Mercia Paul West and Stockton Council chief executive Neil Schneider.

Mrs Cheer said: “I’m delighted to have been recommended by the Commissioner for the position of chief constable of Cleveland Police. The last year has been challenging yet extremely rewarding and I look forward to continuing the work to shape the force for the future.”