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New chief outlines vision

PUBLISHED: 20:00 12 December 2002 | UPDATED: 13:11 03 March 2010

HANDS-on police work saw the future chief constable of Suffolk helping to arrest a car thief, he revealed today.

Alastair McWhirter went out on patrol with police in Ipswich when the incident happened.

HANDS-on police work saw the future chief constable of Suffolk helping to arrest a car thief, he revealed today.

Alastair McWhirter went out on patrol with police in Ipswich when the incident happened.

Mr McWhirter, who starts the job in the new year, said: "I was out on patrol in Ipswich as part of my preparation, when someone was arrested for stealing a car.

"I can't go into details, but it did mean I have made a small contribution to the force in Ipswich – it was rather convenient!"

He was full of praise for Ipswich's town centre police unit, and community officers who live in, and understand, their area.

He also told of his fondness for Suffolk, which he has visited on holiday. Speaking at Martlesham police headquarters today, he added: "I also used to deliver paint here as a holiday job during my student years, so I know it is a beautiful county and know my family are looking forward to moving here."

Mr McWhirter, currently deputy chief constable of Wiltshire Constabulary, won through after two days of interviews by members of the county's police authority.

The 49-year-old replaces Paul Scott-Lee, who became chief constable of West Midlands Police in September.

He said: "I am delighted to be selected. There was fierce competition for this job, because Suffolk is a top-performing police force.

His top priority is to achieve "Suffolk First" – an initiative aiming to make the county the safest in the country by 2006.

He said his first job on arrival in Suffolk, will be to outline immediate issues to tackle.

Mr McWhirter was born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, and taught English and Drama in Winchester before joining Hampshire Constabulary in 1977.

He became a chief inspector in 1987 and was involved with the policing of the Farnborough Air Show and cruise missile convoys, as well as the policing of major industrial disputes and demonstrations.

His operational duties also saw him made deputy ground commander at The Dell, Southampton Football Club. He was promoted to superintendent in 1990, and in 1991 he became divisional commander at Andover in Hampshire where he had to deal with large influxes of New Age travellers.

Mr McWhirter speaks nationally for Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) on Rural Affairs, legal issues around hunting with dogs, and has been involved in developing new legislation to cope with unauthorised camping by travellers.

Mr McWhirter also co-authored a chapter for a book describing the effects of sexual violence on victims.

He is married to Jennifer, a university lecturer, and has two children aged 18 and 15, and his interests include reading, music and the theatre.

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