Blog: Jacqui Cheer's record as Cleveland's Chief

Jacqui Cheer

It's interesting to read today that Mrs Cheer is confident she'll "leave a force which has moved forward from the mistakes of the past" when she retires next year. She's certainly right to be proud of many achievements on Teesside. The force she inherited in 2011 was beset with ongoing scandal and crisis. It was on her watch that disgraced predecessor Sean Price was sacked for gross misconduct, his deputy Derek Bonnard also fired for the same charge. It was a big step forward in improving the force's undeniably awful public image.

But just a year after those high profile sackings, the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that Operation Sacristy - the investigation into alleged fraud within the senior ranks of Cleveland Police - had resulted in no criminal charges. That was despite Sacristy's 41 month duration and 4 million pound bill to the taxpayer. Of course Mrs Cheer had no control in the management of the force before her arrival in the top job. And yet her time on Teesside has largely been spent dealing with the failures of others. A notable example was the force's 2013 compensation pay-out to local defence solicitor James Watson. He was awarded half a million pounds for wrongful arrest. An Independent Police Complaints Commission report found that Cleveland had committed "basic investigative failures" in their handling of the case.

The negative headlines are by no means over for this Chief Constable and her force. Next week, Mrs Cheer is expected to give evidence at an employment tribunal brought by one of her officers who claims he was racially abused while working in the force's armed response unit.

Cleveland Police was once described by a home office committee as a force "notable for ongoing scandals". Mrs Cheer has certainly done her best to drag Cleveland out of a difficult past and into a more positive future. Many may say it's now a better force than the one she inherited. But surely they'd also agree that the force she'll hand over to her successor next year is still far from perfect.