Merseyside Police set to appoint first female chief constable

Merseyside Police Deputy Chief Constable Serena Kennedy has been named as the preferred candidate to become the force’s first female chief constable.

Mar 8, 2021
By Tony Thompson

Ms Kennedy, who joined Merseyside Police in 2017 as assistant chief constable, was chosen following a thorough and rigorous assessment and interview process led by the police and crime commissioner (PCC) and supported by an experienced panel, made up of senior representatives from policing, politics, local government and health,

The panel comprised PCC Jane Kennedy, the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and former chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Dame Sara Thornton, the former chief executive of the College of Policing and HM Inspector of Constabulary Mike Cunningham, the Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, St Helens Council’s chief executive Kath O’Dwyer and the director of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine Professor David Lalloo.

The candidate was also required to take part in a mock media exercise, which tested their communication skills, leadership and cultural and political astuteness and sensitivity through two challenging scenarios.

Ms Kennedy will now go before the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel for a confirmation hearing on March 18. The panel will review the selection process and consider the appointment before giving its view. The panel has the power to veto the PCC’s preferred candidate.

If confirmed by the panel, Ms Kennedy will take up her appointment as chief constable when the current chief, Andy Cooke QPM, leaves the force in April to join Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services.

Merseyside’s PCC Ms Kennedy said: “It is an honour and a privilege as police commissioner to be able to appoint Merseyside Police’s next chief constable. It is one of the biggest decisions I have to make and I am delighted to announce Serena is my preferred candidate.

“Serena is an exceptional officer who has done an excellent job here in Merseyside as assistant chief constable and as the force’s first ever female deputy chief constable. She has a wealth of operational experience and has demonstrated clear strategic leadership both as deputy and through this assessment process.

“I am delighted that she will be my preferred choice for the consideration of Merseyside’s Police and Crime Panel and also that I can publish on International Womens’ Day, that Merseyside Police may have their first-ever female chief constable.

“Andy Cooke has been an outstanding leader and a dedicated servant to the public of Merseyside. It will be a sad day when he leaves the force in April, but I have no doubt that, if the Police and Crime Panel are content, Serena is the best person to step into those shoes and continue to ensure Merseyside Police remains one of the top performing police forces in the country.”

Serena Kennedy, who grew up in Ormskirk, joined Merseyside Police from Cheshire Constabulary, having started her career in neighbourhood policing at Greater Manchester Police, before working her way up to the rank of Inspector.

In 2008, she was promoted to detective chief inspector with the Major Incident Team where she led teams of detectives investigating some of the most serious crimes including murders.

After two years in this role, she moved back into a uniformed role as superintendent in charge of partnerships and local, before then returning to the Serious Crime Division as detective superintendent. She then transferred on promotion to Cheshire Constabulary as head of Public Protection, before joining the chief officer team at Merseyside Police four years ago.

Mr Rotheram said: “Serena is an exceptional candidate and I am sure that, subject to the decision of Merseyside’s Police and Crime Panel, she will do a fantastic job as chief constable. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it’s particularly appropriate that Merseyside Police are set to have their first female chief constable.

“I’d also like to pay tribute to Andy Cooke who has been an excellent chief constable and has worked tirelessly for the people of Merseyside. I wish him the best of luck in his new role.”

Taking to social media, Ms Kennedy noted that the appointment of the first female leader of the force has been announced on International Women’s Day. She tweeted: “I am absolutely delighted to be announced as the PCC’s preferred candidate to be the next chief constable of Merseyside. I am looking forward to ensuring that our brilliant staff continue to deliver excellent service and put our communities first. And on #IWD2021 as well!

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