THE Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police has retired from the force.

Dave Jones, who was awarded the Queen's Policing Medal in the 2017 New Year's Honours, announced he would step down immediately from the force, after almost 32 years of distinguished service.

Mr Jones was appointed as Chief Constable in 2013, and was the first officer in England to be appointed to a Chief Constable role from the position of Assistant Chief Constable. He accepted an extension to his tenure in 2016 to provide continuity of leadership to North Yorkshire Police at a time when other chief officers were retiring from the force.

Mr Jones said he aimed to spend more time with his family following his retirement, and has appointed Deputy Chief Constable Lisa Winward to take command of the force until a successor can be appointed.

He said: "I have been proud to serve the community for nearly 32 years, but it is now time to step back and be with my family. I have always believed that neighbourhood policing is the bedrock of the police service, and that community approach is absolutely embedded at North Yorkshire Police. The force is also firmly on the road to a modernised service, with developments in mobile technology now rolling-out across the frontline, and more still to come."

Mr Jones previously served at Greater Manchester police, and was ACC with Police Service Northern Ireland before moving to North Yorkshire in 2013. In 2016, he took charge of South Yorkshire Police during a period of transition in which they were without a chief officer.

Mr Jones said he had seen a lot of changes in the way the force worked, and now was the right time for him to step aside as the changes continued.

He said: "Policing does not stand still, and North Yorkshire Policing is about to start the next phase in its transformation. This seemed like the right time for me to hand over the baton to a new leader, who can take the service on this new stage of the journey."

"I have said before that families play an absolutely crucial role in allowing police officers to do the best job in the world. I’d like to pay tribute to my family for the fantastic support they have given me over the years. I am very much looking forward to spending more time with them in my retirement. I’d also like to pay tribute to my colleagues at North Yorkshire Police, and the wider service for their dedication and commitment to keeping people safe, and making North Yorkshire one of the safest counties in England."

Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said the search for a new Chief Constable would begin as soon as possible, with an aim to appoint a successor within three months.

She said: "It was with great regret that I have accepted Dave Jones’ decision to retire, but I completely understand and respect his wish to spend more time with his family.

"I selected Dave Jones for the role of Chief Constable because of his impressive record of service in some of the most challenging environments in the UK, his clear determination, and his very deep commitment to community policing. He promised to be a formidable leader, and he has absolutely lived up to that promise. His personal leadership and commitment to North Yorkshire Police – and the wider police service – has been exceptional, and he has done a great job in very challenging times. He leaves with the respect and best wishes of colleagues in our county and beyond. Policing – and North Yorkshire Police in particular – will miss him greatly."

Chief Constable Sara Thornton CBE QPM, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, also paid tribute to Mr Jones.

She said: "I would like to thank Dave for his tremendous contribution to policing nationally.

"In particular he has led the National Police Chiefs' Council work on citizens in policing and rural crime. He has been a board member of our staff association for many years, supporting colleagues through tough times, and he has been a committed and active member of Chiefs' Council. The readiness with which he transferred to South Yorkshire Police when they urgently needed help impressed all those involved. He was insightful, energetic and completely selfless."

Mrs Mulligan said Deputy Chief Constable Winward was "a highly respected and experienced chief officer", and she was "confident that the force is in very safe hands".

She said: "By the end of the month we will appoint a deputy to backfill DCC Winward’s position on an interim basis, and I will carry out an open and transparent recruitment process for a permanent Chief Constable as soon as possible."