Suffolk: Jacqui Cheer could be set to replace retiring police chief Simon Ash

JACQUI Cheer could be set to return to Suffolk as the county’s new Chief Constable following the announcement that Simon Ash, the present incumbent, will be retiring in February.

Mrs Cheer, who is Mr Ash’s deputy, has been acting head of Cleveland Police since October last year.

However, the appointment is a temporary one, and she is still technically Suffolk’s deputy chief constable.

Mrs Cheer will be one of the leading contenders for the top post, and if appointed she would become the county’s first female chief constable.

Mrs Cheer began her career in Essex in 1984.

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She moved through the ranks before joining Suffolk Constabulary from Essex as Assistant Chief Constable in July 2006.

Less than six months later she led Operation Sumac, the inquiry which led to the capture and conviction of Steve Wright after he murdered five sex workers in Ipswich between October and December that year.

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In November 2007 Mrs Cheer was promoted to Deputy Chief Constable.

Mrs Cheer is currently the Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPO) lead for Animal Health, and was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in last year’s New Year’s Honours list.

Mr Ash, who joined Suffolk Constabulary as Chief Constable in June 2007, yesterday announced he would be leaving.

Although his departure was announced only a week after the elections for Suffolk’s first Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), he had been intending to step down for several months.

Mr Ash’s contract was extended by 12 months in June last year, in order for him to ensure there is a smooth handover to Tim Passmore, the newly-elected PCC.

Mr Ash said: “My contract with Suffolk was due to come to an end earlier in the year, but I decided to remain in post to oversee the transition to the Police and Crime Commissioner.

“With the election behind us, it now seems an appropriate time to hand over to a new Chief Constable, who can take the constabulary forward with the new Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore. I have worked closely with Tim over the past five years in his role as leader of Mid Suffolk District Council and I wish him every success for the future.”

Mr Ash will be taking up a position as an independent member of the Parole Board when he leaves the constabulary.

Mr Passmore said: “I would like to thank Simon for the support he has given me to date.

“It is not by accident that Suffolk is one of the safest counties. Simon has led Suffolk Constabulary through some testing financial times and I applaud him for his commitment to the constabulary.”

Mark Bee, Suffolk County Council leader, also praised Mr Ash.

He said: “Simon Ash deserves enormous thanks for what he has contributed to Suffolk, not least in the last year when he agreed to extend his contract for an additional 12 months.

“The challenge now facing Tim Passmore is to recruit a new chief constable capable of building on Suffolk’s many strengths.”

Mr Ash was also awarded a Queen’s Police Medal in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June this year.

He is currently the ACPO lead on Reward and Recognition having led the portfolio since 2005.

Mr Ash is also involved in the ACPO response to the Winsor Review of police officers’ terms and conditions.

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