Thursday 20 September 2012

Chief Constable John Stoddart steps down at the start of October

Jon STODDART(12.11)Chief's retirement message..
In his last few weeks as a serving police officer, Chief Constable Jon Stoddart has spoken of his plans to keep active - and his pride at leading the force over the last seven years.
Mr Stoddart steps down at the start of October, bringing to an end a distinguished 30-year career.
Newcastle born and bred, he was educated at the city's Royal Grammar School and then Northumbria University.
But his plans to join the police after graduating were put on ice for almost two years, courtesy of a broken ankle sustained during a rugby game.
He finally joined his local force in 1982 and was singled out for accelerated promotion, reaching the rank of chief superintendent during his 16 years with Northumbria.
After moving to Lincolnshire as assistant chief constable, he returned to the north east in 2003 to become Durham's deputy chief. Two years later he succeeded Paul Garvin in the top job
"It's the appropriate time to retire and will be helpful to the incoming police and crime commissioner to have a new chief constable, someone who no doubt intends to be in place for a number of years. But I plan to carry on working in some capacity and involved in a number of causes close to my heart," said Mr Stoddart.
"I feel young enough to keep exercising those 'little grey cells', and it will also keep me out of the house.
"But I will miss policing terribly. Durham will always be my number one force and I am proud of its fantastic achievements. The Durham culture is one of working with partners and the community to tackle the root causes of problems so we can solve them permanently," said the chief, who was awarded an OBE in the last New Year's Honours list.
He is also delighted the force is able to recruit once again, after a period when officer and staff numbers were steadily falling.
"As chief I inherited a force which was already downsizing and finance was very tight. Previous chiefs had enjoyed the luxury of being able to increase the workforce on the back of revenue streams from the Home Office.
"The whole redundancy and restructuring process was painful, but we got ahead of the game compared to most other forces. The end result is that we are now in a far better place than many."
Looking ahead to the issues facing the force over the next few years Mr Stoddart remains confident Durham is equipped to meet the issues head-on.
"Mike Barton will succeed me as acting chief and I know he and the rest of the executive will do a tremendous job easing us through those early stages under a police commissioner," he said.
"When I first came to Durham the force had six basic command units, as many as 11 control rooms and an IT system which frankly, didn’t work. Now we have restructured to become more efficient, we are about to start building a new headquarters and we have more modern, streamlined ways of carrying out our business," he said.
Over the last few years Mr Stoddart has also been the national police spokesman on alcohol issues, and he is convinced the easy access to cheap drink is something which must be tackled.
"I'm a firm believer in a minimum unit price for alcohol. Quite simply it is far too cheap and far too easily available. And I think it is only now being recognised that alcohol abuse is something which goes across all social classes, causing immense problems for our emergency and health services."
As he contemplates his change of life, 53-year-old Mr Stoddart thanked his family for their support throughout his career. His wife, Kate has just finished an education degree and is taking up a post with a school for special needs students in Northumberland. And his retirement also means he will get to see more of his son, 13-year-old George as well as freeing up time to maintain his passion for cycling.
"There are lots of challenges ahead, but Durham Constabulary is in good hands. I am sure the organisation and its people will respond positively to those challenges and continue our excellent record," he said.

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