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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Deputy is Cumbria's new chief constable

Cumbria's deputy police chief will become the county’s permanent chief constable, ending a period of upheaval that has seen a trio of officers take the role in only three years.

Jerry Graham photo
Jerry Graham

Jerry Graham, 50, will be promoted to the position in August, landing him a five-year contract and a salary of between £118,000 and £144,000 a year.

Confirmation of his appointment came after he was quizzed over his suitability for the role by Cumbria’s police and crime panel, which scrutinises the work of county crime commissioner Richard Rhodes.

Mr Rhodes had earlier named Mr Graham his preferred candidate.

Mr Graham, currently deputy chief constable of the county force and formerly assistant chief constable, spoke of his delight.

“I consider it an absolute privilege to be given the opportunity to be chief constable of Cumbria,” he told the News & Star.

“I regard this as the best job in British policing.”

The new appointment brings an end to two years of rapid change at the top of the force.

Bernard Lawson, who has held the role of chief constable on a temporary basis for 20 months, retires at the end of July. He was brought in from Merseyside Police to replace the previous temporary chief, Stuart Hyde.

Mr Hyde took on the top role after succeeding Craig Mackey, who left after landing the job of deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in January 2012.

Mr Graham paid tribute to the work of Mr Lawson, adding a permanent appointment would be important for the force.

“I think the organisation needs a long-term plan and staff need to know where we are going, what’s the road and who is going to take us there,” he added.

Mr Graham said he never thought he would be chief constable when starting off in policing 29 years ago.

“Whenever I’ve gone into a new rank I try to be as effective in that particular rank as I can be,” he said. “You get to the point where you think: ‘I’m effective, I could possibly do the next one’.”

This was the first time this new process for appointing a chief constable had been carried out in Cumbria and is part of the system put in place when the role of crime commissioner was created.

During the panel meeting Mr Rhodes told members there was “probably no more important decision for the crime commissioner to take than the appointment of a chief constable”.

He added: “It is absolutely essential that there is a good positive relationship between the commissioner and the chief constable.

“I know that we can conduct ourselves in that atmosphere of healthy professional challenge.

“I know that Mr Graham is a man of huge integrity.

“It is absolutely vital that we have such a man at the top of the police force in this county.”

Mr Rhodes pointed out that in a nine month period during 2012 there had been three chief constables in Cumbria.

“We need to have continuity,” he added.

Mr Graham told the panel he was “passionate about policing in Cumbria”.

He added: “I have been present during the last few years when we have gone through a period of instability.

“I think Cumbria Constabulary now needs continuity. I think I have the skills, experience and knowledge to take Cumbria Constabulary forward.”

Mr Graham said the biggest challenge facing British policing was austerity.

“We are clearly being asked to protect the public of Cumbria with significantly less resources than we had a few years ago,” he added.

Mr Graham went on to speak about how he would be keen to get officers out in the places people went to, such as shops, the library and the post office.

He also touched on his experience during some of the most troubled times Cumbria had faced.

“Decisions around the Cumbria shootings, decisions around the floods in 2009,” he added.

“I have been severely tested in times of crisis and in slower times, with decisions that maybe take months to work their way through.

“I don’t change my mind just because the going gets tough.”

Speaking after the meeting, Celia Tibble, chairwoman of the panel, said: “The panel were particularly impressed by the evidence of Mr Graham’s integrity and his clear focus on ensuring values and ethics are at the heart of policing.”

The meeting was held at the Cumbria Rural Enterprise Centre at Redhills, near Penrith.

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