GLOUCESTERSHIRE prepares to welcome its first ever female chief constable.

Suzette Davenport is set to take the top job at the beginning of February and it is the first time in the constabulary's 174-year history that a woman has been at the helm.

Ms Davenport, who is currently Deputy Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police, was one of four candidates interviewed to head the 2207-strong Constabulary.

Commenting on her appointment, the 49-year-old said: “I am delighted and hugely proud to be joining a progressive constabulary that has a strong reputation for policing and leading a team of experienced and capable staff.

“This is an exciting opportunity for me to work with the new Police and Crime Commissioner at the start of a new era and to deliver first class policing services and help keep the people of Gloucestershire safe”.

Among her responsibilities in her current role are performance, risk, reputation, change management and regional operational collaboration.

Originally from North Yorkshire, Ms Davenport started her police service with West Mercia Police and worked in a variety of roles over the next 20 years.

After a short spell at the Home Office in 2005, she was appointed Assistant Chief Constable with Staffordshire Police and in May 2007 transferred to the West Midlands, where she led intelligence and neighbourhood policing.

As well as her responsibilities in Northamptonshire, Ms Davenport is the national lead for roads policing in England and Wales. For eight years, she was vice president of the British Association for Women in Policing.

The four candidates for the post were interviewed by a panel led by Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl. He said he looked forward to welcoming Ms Davenport to the county.

“When I became Commissioner I said we needed a Chief Constable whom, as well as having all the skills for such a challenging job, also needed to be committed to Gloucestershire. With Suzettte we have that,” he said.

“Balancing public expectations with fewer resources will be our challenge. We are fortunate that Gloucestershire already has a police service to be proud of but there are many more improvements we can make. I am very much looking forward to working with Suzette to achieve that and to make the county an even better and safer place to live, work and enjoy.”

Other members of the interviewing panel were:

  •  David Hagg, Chief Executive of Stroud District Council (representing Gloucestershire’s local authorities)
  • John Donlon, Policing Advisor, National Co-ordinator of Protect and Prepare, Association of Chief Police Officers
  • Pauline Dixon, Independent Advisor
  • Dr Shona Arora, Director of Public Health for Gloucestershire.

Independent Advisor Pauline Dixon will now submit a report on the selection process to Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Panel. It will be asked to confirm the appointment when it meets on January 14.

The Constabulary’s Temporary Chief Constable, Mick Matthews, leaves Gloucestershire on January 31 to take up the post of Chief Constable of the Sovereign Base Areas Police Service in Cyprus.