Speech to the Police & Crime Panel on the retirement of the Chief Constable

Chief Constable Simon Cole and PCC Rupert Matthews

Thank you Chair

It is my duty now to inform you formally that I have received from the Chief Constable his letter informing me that he is to be retiring from the police in March of this year.

I would like to take a moment to put on record our sincere thanks and appreciation for the leadership that Chief Constable Cole has demonstrated during his tenure.

I think most will be aware he became Chief Constable of Leicestershire in 2010 and is the longest serving Chief Constable in the country. Leading any organisation with such dignity and professionalism is a huge emotional and physical undertaking but made more admirable because as we all appreciate the 21st Century Policing landscape is more challenging, complex, scrutinised and intense than at any time in recent history.  

Of course, what is particularly special are his Leicester links. He grew up in Leicestershire and family had served with the force. On leaving university, he was keen to become a police officer here but was sadly rejected because he is red/green colour blind – no longer a barrier to joining, of course.  

Undeterred, he joined the West Midlands Police in 1988 where he worked in various uniform and detective roles up to the rank of Chief Superintendent at which point he successfully passed the National Strategic Command Course in 2001. He then joined Hampshire Constabulary and served there as an Assistant and Deputy Chief Constable before seizing the opportunity to return to Leicestershire and applied to become the Chief Constable in 2010.

In his time in Leicestershire and Rutland, he has experienced the full breadth of what policing is expected to manage. Some of the more noteworthy events have included high-profile emergency and major incidents, Premier League celebrations, and even the re-interment of a medieval king. Of course, he played a leading role in how our area dealt with and responded to restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Policing needs leaders who are strong public figures, calm under pressure, operationally experienced, politically agile, able to turn strategic objectives into operational delivery and widely respected. Well Simon you tick all those boxes that is for sure.

During his term as Chief Constable, he has taken an active role leading on a number of national portfolios including the digital public contact programme, providing online services to the public across England and Wales. He has led on Counter Terrorism Prevent, language services and uniform. He has also previously held the national lead for neighbourhood policing and mental health.

Being on the national stage is as complex and demanding as it is leading the force locally and your commitment to the national policing effort should not go unnoticed. I am aware that the respect and admiration for his leadership within the NPCC is as highly regarded as it is here.

Locally, he has been the chair of the Local Resilience Forum, ensuring our public sector agencies are prepared and trained to respond jointly to major incidents.

He is a visiting Fellow of the Department of Criminology at the University of Leicester, a member of the De Montfort University Faculty of Law Advisory Group and Board Member of De Montfort University (2017-2020).

He is the vice-president of Leicestershire Guides and Scouts, the vice-chair of the Police Mutual, which aims to support members of the police family and, finally, Simon is a trustee of the Care of Police Survivors charity. He has regularly cycled 180 miles in support of the charity and climbed mountains in the dark to raise money for this important cause.

Mr Cole was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in the New Year’s Honours in 2014, and the Sir Robert Peel medal for problem-solving policing from the University of Cambridge in 2021. Leicestershire was only one of five forces to operationalise the Cambridge Crime Harm Index (CHI) which was described by the university as a “pioneering use” of the Crime Harm Index in reorganising patrol beats.  

It is my pleasure, in my role as Commissioner, to ask the panel to record formally my thanks on behalf of the people of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to Simon Cole for being an exceptional Chief Constable; he has served our City and Two Counties with distinction; and he will be greatly missed by many inside and outside of the force.  

Simon – Thank you!!!



I must now address the issue of finding a replacement Chief Constable. Mr Peet and I have studied the national guidance on this process. As you will imagine for a position of such importance and sensitivity, the process is fairly complex and will take some time to complete.

There will therefore be a need for the Leicestershire Police to have an Acting Chief Constable to be in place for the time between Mr Cole’s retirement and the appointment of his successor.

I have asked the current Deputy Chief Constable, Mr Robert Nixon, to step up to the task of Acting Chief Constable. I am sure that you will join me in wishing him well in this position.


Rupert Matthews
Police & Crime Commissioner for Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland

Posted on Wednesday 2nd February 2022
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