POLITICIANS have reacted to the news that Chief Constable Richard Lewis is leaving Cleveland Police to return to his native Wales.

The four Conservative MPs whose constituencies are covered by Cleveland Police have issued a joint statement upon hearing news of his departure.

Mr Lewis took over the force in 2019 when it was in chaos.

It had been rocked by a number of scandals, including the unlawful grabbing of telephone data of two reporters from The Northern Echo.

He is favourite to take over at Dyfed-Powys Police Force in Wales means the force is looking for its seventh boss in a decade.

Simon Clarke MP (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland), Jill Mortimer MP (Hartlepool), Matt Vickers MP (Stockton South) and Jacob Young MP (Redcar), said: "When Richard took up his position at Cleveland, years of inadequacy from the local leadership had left the force labelled the worst in the country. Under Richard’s leadership, important progress has been made and the future of Cleveland Police is looking much brighter.

The Northern Echo: Jill Mortimer, Hartlepool MP, with Home Secretary Priti PatelJill Mortimer, Hartlepool MP, with Home Secretary Priti Patel

"Richard is moving back home to Wales to take up a Chief Constable position closer to his family.

"And so, while we wish Richard well in his new post, there is no denying he leaves big shoes to fill here. This is obviously another difficult situation for Cleveland Police which now once again faces a period of uncertainty while we await a new appointment."

The Northern Echo: Conservative MPS Simon Clarke, left, and Jacob Young, rightConservative MPS Simon Clarke, left, and Jacob Young, right

Andy McDonald, Labour MP for Middlesbrough, said: “The task is now to find a replacement of equivalent stature and to maintain the drive for improvement. Mr Lewis’s innate integrity, his wholehearted commitment to the enforcement of the law and the protection of the public in accordance with principles of decency, respect and inclusivity, make him an incredibly hard act to follow.”

The Northern Echo: Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonaldMiddlesbrough MP Andy McDonald

Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North said: "This is also a major blow to the new PCC to lose a highly competent Chief Constable within weeks of taking office and he now has a major task in recruiting a new person of equal or even higher calibre to continue the positive work we’ve seen over the last two years.

"We desperately need a top person for the role – and one that will stay long term to tackle not just drugs crime but also much of the violent crime which has soared in our area in recent times.”

The Northern Echo: Stockton North MP Alex CunninghamStockton North MP Alex Cunningham

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