ONE of North Yorkshire Police's most senior officers will retire today after almost 30 years on the force.

Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick joined North Yorkshire Police in 1988 and served in York as a constable, sergeant and inspector, spending years on the city centre beat.

Mr Madgwick said he had seen changes in the city centre, including a shift from mainly male offenders and a wider range of offences, but he believed the public were genuinely safer now than 30 years ago.

He said: "I remember my first drunk and disorderly arrest on my first night shift. York was a busy place and I know people talk now about disorder and the perception of disorder but the fights were bigger back then.

"The range of offences has changed, but there was an awful lot of violence and glassings, and we very rarely see section 18 woundings now. The control of problems through doorstaff and others is infinitely better now, and injuries back then in the city centre were far worse than they are now. That's not looking through rose-tinted glasses, that's looking at it scientifically."

Mr Madgwick said his years in the city centre "seemed to go in a flash", before he moved to a mobile unit then became an inspector in 1999.

He was Bronze Commander during the floods in 2000, and responsible for coordinating the evacuation of thousands of people from the Leeman Road area as the danger rose.

Mr Madgwick said this experience helped him when he was Gold Commander for the Boxing Day floods in 2015, when "the initial response was quite similar", but the later events brought their own challenges and flooding was "something the city has to face forever and a day".

He said: "We had problems with the Foss Basin all those years back, it's odd to think you fast forward 15 years and still have similar problems.

"Now you need a communications strategy 30 seconds after you take up the role. I think the social media messaging systems allowed us to do that. It's a shame people have to get flooded to get into these community groups, but they are helpful and now work has been done I like to think they won't be that badly affected in the years to come. Communications are easier now, unless BT gets flooded."

Mr Madgwick became the chief constable’s staff officer in 2001, was promoted to chief inspector the following year and in 2003 was promoted to superintendent, then Chief Superintendent, when he took over as area commander for the York and Selby districts. He was named Assistant Chief Constable in March 2010, taking on the position of Deputy Chief Constable in December 2011, and took over from former Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell in 2012, until Dave Jones joined the force in 2013.

In 2004, Mr Madgwick led the hunt for multiple murderer Mark Hobson, who killed four people in Selby and Strensall, before eventually being arrested and jailed on a whole life sentence.

He was at Fulford Road when information about the Selby murders came in, and said he knew when the second murders were reported that they must be connected.

Mr Madgwick said: "I remember going to the scene looking at the house of an elderly couple who were completely unconnected and randomly selected. They were just two people, could have been anyone's parents, just leading a normal life in a nice house in a very quiet suburb."

"I felt personally responsible as area commender, four people had been killed and it was my area. It wasn't about performance indicators, it was far more personal than that.

Armed police officers were sent to every reported sighting of Hobson during the eight day search, leading to "constant tension" among officers, and Mr Madgwick said "I lost that week completely, as did many colleagues as we worked every hour".

Mr Madgwick said Hobson's arrest was "probably one of the most satisfying moments" in his career, and he believed the full life sentence was totally justified in his case.

Mr Madgwick, who was awarded the QPM in 2015 for distinguished service, said he understood the force still had to deal with traditional challenges of alcohol and drugs and the behaviour they create, but "the biggest challenges going forward are linked to technology and online offences" and "it was far easier to grapple with a drunk man who wanted to punch you than some of the issues police have to deal with now".

He said: "I'm enormously proud of the service. I know sometimes we don't always get it right, but the quality of my colleagues and their dedication to the service is immense.

"Would I like more funding or officers? Of course I would, but the reality is the budgets are set and we have to operate within our means. We have to identify where resources can be responsive to what the public are concerned about. People will feel more reassured by more visible presence on the streets, but the reality is we have a strong neighbourhood footprint in York and across the county which is good and many forces have stepped away from that."

Looking ahead, Mr Madgwick said he plans to travel with his wife Dee, aiming to take in destinations including Madagascar, Malawi, Kenya and New Zealand, where he said he almost moved prior to becoming a police officer.