Jon Boutcher to step down as chief constable
Bedfordshire Police’s chief constable has announced he intends to step down after five years in the post.
Jon Boutcher said he had been “incredibly fortunate to have had such a wonderful policing career” but being chief constable of Bedfordshire “has been the highlight – without question”.
He has spent 35 years in the police service, including 25 years as a detective for the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).
Before joining Bedfordshire Police in 2014, he was head of the MPS’ Flying Squad and was a leading counter terror investigating officer.
He was appointed chief constable of Bedfordshire Police in 2015.
The force has confirmed that he will continue to lead Operation Kenova, an investigation into historic homicides, tortures and kidnappings in Northern Ireland.
One of his proudest achievements, he said, is that his force is top when it comes to recruiting from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.
Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner (PCC) Kathryn Holloway said it had been “a pleasure and a privilege to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the outstanding Jon Boutcher over the last three years”.
“His values are part of the DNA of the force and he leaves a strong legacy,” she added.
“I believe he will be recognised as an exceptional chief in the history of Bedfordshire Police, including his genuine focus on boosting diversity in recruitment.
“We enjoy what I believe is the strongest professional relationship of any chief and PCC – we’ve stood together on funding and challenged criticism of the force. I know that whatever he’s doing, wherever he is in the world, he’ll continue to stand up publicly for Bedfordshire Police.
“He has provided exceptional leadership of the force, plus the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Joint Protective Services, and the regional response to organised crime and counter terrorism.
“He has established a culture within the force and a personal leadership style where the buck stops with him that I will be looking to when recruiting his replacement – a true leader linked to our communities and committed to community policing.”
Ms Holloway will begin the process of recruiting the next chief constable to succeed Mr Boutcher when he leaves the force on July 5.
Mr Boutcher said: “The force is fantastic and it has been a privilege to be chief constable during this period which has seen us improve across the board. Bedfordshire as a force had previously faced criticism over many years, that is no longer the position.
“We have gone from being under special scrutiny and supposedly the one of the ‘worst’ performing forces in the country according to Her Majesty Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), to no longer being subject to that additional HMICFRS scrutiny. In fact we now have positive HMICFRS reports, with forces now coming here from all over the country, and indeed overseas, to see the brilliant work we are doing.
“The work we are doing to attract candidates to ensure we are reflective of the communities we serve has been held up as best practice and is something I’m utterly passionate about. Policing is the most incredible profession and it should be ‘open’ to people from all communities, we must represent the people we serve. That is just one example of the super work the force is doing, pushing boundaries, using innovation and striving to provide the very best service possible.
“Policing remains hugely underfunded and Bedfordshire Police provides the most profound example of this as a force with the most challenging and complex demands normally only faced by metropolitan forces such as the Met, West Midlands and the like, and yet the funding gap has still not been addressed.
“I recognise recent efforts by the current Home Secretary and Policing Minister to reverse a longstanding lack of police investment however I would remind everyone that it is the first responsibility of government to protect its citizens, policing must be properly funded. The consequences of previous budgetary decisions are now being felt by all of our communities, this must be addressed.”