Ian Learmonth to stand down as Kent's Chief Constable

Ian Learmonth says the time is right for him to stand down after 40 years in the police service

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The Chief Constable of Kent, Ian Learmonth, is to stand down after three-and-a-half years in the job.

Mr Learmonth, who joined the Kent force in July 2010 from Norfolk, where he was deputy chief constable, plans to retire in January after 40 years' service.

During his time in Kent Mr Learmonth has overseen large-scale job cuts in an attempt to save £53m in four years.

Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes said he had managed those challenges with "great skill".

Mr Learmonth, 56, began his career with Essex Police as a cadet in 1974 before joining the regular force in 1976.

After 28 years with Essex, he joined Strathclyde as assistant chief constable before moving to Norfolk in 2007.

'Unprecedented change'

He was thrown in at the deep end on arrival as head of the Kent force, with police forces required to make big budget cuts during the economic downturn.

In his first week in the job he confirmed that jobs were likely to go.

In total, 20% of the workforce is being axed - 500 police posts and 1,000 civilian jobs - in the four years to 2014.

Ms Barnes, who became Police and Crime Commissioner for the county in November, said: "During his time in Kent, he has not only had to deal with the pressures considered normal for such a high rank, but he has had to lead the force through a period of unprecedented change relating to the most severe budget cutbacks in living memory.

"Anyone connected with the policing family of Kent will know that he has managed these challenges with great skill and, despite the pressures, has always maintained the respect, and indeed the affection, of those in the force and the wider community."

However, he was criticised in June after admitting that his force had inaccurately recorded some crimes to meet targets, although no laws were broken.

Mr Learmonth, who was awarded the Queen's Police Medal in 2012, said in a statement: "Forty years' public service is a significant milestone and a good time to reflect.

"It has been a real privilege to lead Kent Police in the service of the people of Kent."

A spokesman for Ms Barnes said she would consider her options for recruiting a successor over the next few days.

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