Suffolk has a new chief constable

Suffolks new chief constable Gareth Wilson, with the countys Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passm

Suffolks new chief constable Gareth Wilson, with the countys Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore. - Credit: Archant

A new year has ushered in a new era for Suffolk Constabulary with the formal appointment of Gareth Wilson as the county's chief constable.

Yesterday the Suffolk Police and Crime Panel unanimously ratified Mr Wilson's selection as the force looks ahead to 2016 with renewed confidence.

After his appointment was made at a meeting at Suffolk County Council's Endeavour House in Ipswich, Mr Wilson said: 'I'm incredibly proud to be leading an organisation that I have come to know and love.

'The staff are second to none and the community is one we can all be proud of.

'My commitment is to make sure we continue to make Suffolk a safe place and that we are really responsive to our communities' needs.'

Earlier the county's police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore recommended Mr Wilson's selection to the panel saying: 'Gareth is an excellent candidate. He has a wide range of policing experience in Essex, Kent and Norfolk and in the last two or three years (in Suffolk).

'I would say he really understands the needs of Suffolk and that balance between the rural and urban needs of our county.

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'There is absolutely no question that Gareth as a person has the interests or our county of Suffolk right at the top of his list.'

Questioned over Mr Wilson having been the only candidate to have applied for the post and to have been interviewed, Mr Passmore was adamant he was recommending the right man to the helm.

He pointed out there had been a number of other forces in 2015 which had been in the same position of only having one applicant for their chief constable posts.

Mr Passmore also stressed the Suffolk job had been advertised nationally and Mr Wilson's interview had been a rigorous one.

Over the past five years Suffolk Constabulary has had to deal with large-scale cutbacks to its government grant leading to a sizeable reduction in police officers.

An announcement of re-structuring last month heralded the loss of dozens of police community support posts and many other civilian staff jobs.

Shortly afterwards the financial corner appeared to have been turned following a surprise £9million windfall over four years from the chancellor of the exchequer which wiped out the need to find the remainder of the £20.5million savings required.

Mr Wilson had been the temporary chief constable since his predecessor Douglas Paxton became ill in December 2014. He left the force in November.

Mr Wilson told the panel he was fully committed to local policing and endorsed the work of Safer Neighbourhood Teams around the county, although there will be fewer after the restructuring announcement.

He said he intended that Suffolk Constabulary would continue to be a 'local police force serving the local needs of its local community'.