Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police is suspended

Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police is suspended

July 26, 2023

Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police Will Kerr is suspended amid allegations of misconduct just eight months after starting the role

The Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police was suspended today after less than a year in the role following allegations of misconduct.  

Will Kerr, who joined the force in December 2022, was suspended by Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez. 

A statement issued by her office said: ‘Pursuant to section 38(2) of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, Alison Hernandez, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, has suspended the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, Will Kerr OBE KPM, following allegations of misconduct. 

‘The Commissioner has referred the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which has confirmed it will commence an investigation.’

Mr Kerr was appointed to the role by Ms Hernandez ‘following a rigorous selection process’. 

Will Kerr, who joined Devon and Cornwall Police in December 2022, was suspended by Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez

His appointment followed the retirement of Shaun Sawyer, who had been in the role for more than a decade.

Mr Kerr had spent much of his career in policing working at a senior level in different organisations across the UK.

At Police Scotland he was responsible for local policing provision throughout the country.

 He also oversaw both the criminal justice portfolio, and the partnership, prevention and community wellbeing portfolio, a command of more than 16,500 officers and staff.

He was elected to one of the three European delegate posts for the Executive Committee of Interpol in November 2021, a position he will hold until November 2024.

This is an influential post, involving complex global politics in an organisation consisting of 195 member countries.

Mr Kerr spent more than 27 years in the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) where he rose to the rank of assistant chief constable for crime and operations and was the lead for both serious crime and counter-terrorism.

While assistant chief constable for Belfast, he was responsible for policing all major events in the city and was the Gold (strategic) commander for the parading season in Northern Ireland.

He is a very experienced Gold public order firearms commander and has significant investigative expertise in serious and organised crime and counter-terrorism.

In 2017 and 2018, he held The Director of Vulnerabilities command within the National Crime Agency. In that role, he coordinated the UK’s response (both domestically and internationally) to child sexual abuse, modern slavery, human trafficking, and organised immigration crime.

He was appointed OBE in 2015 while assistant chief constable with the PSNI and received the King’s Policing Medal in the 2023 New Year Honours.

When he took up his post with Devon and Cornwall Police at the end of last year, he said the role would include getting standards right, improving visibility within communities and looking after the workforce.

He said he was also prioritising the tackling of violence against women and girls and making public spaces safer for everyone.

‘Violence against women and girls has been talked about far more openly,’ he said.

‘We have a real responsibility as the local police force not only to tackle the violence but to prevent as much of it as we possibly can and make public spaces feel safe for women and girls to go out and go about their normal daily lives without abuse, attempts to approach them or catcalling.

‘We all have a collective responsibility, but policing, in particular, has a particular responsibility to tackle this issue as robustly as it should be.’

He added: ‘This is a force with an impressive and proud heritage, and a policing style rightly grounded in neighbourhood policing and on local community needs.

‘I have already been impressed by the excellent work that goes on every day and I look forward to meeting the diverse communities living in this fantastic part of the country.

‘It will be a privilege to serve as your chief constable, and I’m very much looking forward to starting in this role.’

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