CLEVELAND Police has endured an unenviable decade of turmoil as the force begins the hunt for its seventh Chief Constable since 2012.

Richard Lewis is the latest to join a long list of chiefs to head up the force since Sean Price was sacked.

Mr Lewis managed two years in office before being offered the Chief Constable job at his native Dyfed-Powys Police Force in Wales where had served as Deputy before heading to Cleveland in April 2019.

During his time in office, he has faced the significant problem of turning around the fortunes of the troubled force.

The Northern Echo: Richard LewisRichard Lewis

When Mr Lewis stepped into the role the force had been rocked by a number of scandals, including the unlawful grabbing of telephone data of two reporters from The Northern Echo.

He inherited the troubled force when it received the worst verdict in an inspection of any force in history in 2019 when an independent watchdog rated it as ‘inadequate’ in every area it inspected.

His departure comes just four months after the election of a new police and crime commissioner Conservative Steve Turner.

The force has seen a number of chief constables amongst its ranks since Sean Price was sacked in 2012.

He was replaced by Jacqui Cheers, who left in 2016; then it was Iain Spittal for two years; Mike Veale was in charge from 2018 to 2019; with Lee Freeman temporarily filling the void when Mr Veale suddenly left.

Sean Price

He took over the force in 2003 after five years of bitter wrangling came to an end when incumbent Barry Shaw stepped down from the role.

During his nine-year tenure, Mr Price saw Cleveland Police named as Police Force of the Year, as well as scoring top marks in public confidence in the British Crime Survey in April 2011.

Just months later he was arrested as part of Operation Sacristy, the criminal investigation into a number of people with current or past associations with the police authority.

The Northern Echo: Sean PriceSean Price

Mr Price never faced any criminal charges as a result of the multi-million-pound investigation but he was sacked for gross misconduct in October 2012.

Jacqui Cheer

She took over the role on a temporary basis while her predecessor was under investigation. Miss Cheer was appointed on a full time basis in April 2013.

While in charge she commissioned a report into allegations there was problems with institutional racism within the force.

The leaking of an interim report resulted in the force unlawfully using Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) powers to track down the source.

The Northern Echo: Jacqui CheerJacqui Cheer

Data seized by the force showed more than a hundred pages of numbers had been collected, recording the time and length of calls coming into and out of mobile phones and landlines, as well as when text messages were sent or received.

Miss Cheer retired in March 2016 following a three-month secondment to the College of Policing.

Iain Spittal

He stepped up from the Deputy role to take over the force but lasted just two years in office.

In January 2017, he announced that the professional standards department (PSD), which investigates complaints, misconduct allegations and wrongdoing amongst officers, would be disbanded, he also announced a full review of how to replace it.

The Northern Echo: Iain SpittalIain Spittal

The planned changes to Cleveland Police’s disciplinary department comes in the wake of a litany of failed employment tribunals, internal misconduct hearings and the unlawful use of surveillance powers.

In August 2019, he was served with gross misconduct notices this week by police watchdog the Independent Office of Police Conduct, over the unlawful use of surveillance powers. The investigation is still on-going.

Mike Veale

He started in January 2018 and resigned in January 2019 - 12 months into the job.

Mr Veale was appointed by the-then Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger following controversy over an investigation he oversaw while at Wiltshire Police, an inquiry he led into former Prime Minister Ted Heath.

The Northern Echo: Mike VealeMike Veale

He was also forced to apologise after an earlier IOPC investigation after he gave different accounts of how he damaged a work mobile phone while working at the Wiltshire force.

Lee Freeman

He stepped in to take over the force on a temporary basis until Richard Lewis was appointed in April 2019.

Chief Constable Freeman was on secondment to the force from Humberside Police for three months.

The Northern Echo: Lee FreemanLee Freeman

At the time, he said there was no reason why Cleveland couldn’t become one of the best forces in the country.