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Derbyshire's first female Chief Constable confirmed

Rachel Swann has now been officially confirmed as the first ever female Chief Constable of Derbyshire Constabulary.

She takes over the top job as the county's police chief from Peter Goodman, who retired at the end of July after a 32-year career in policing.

It was announced on 24 July that Mrs Swann, who was previously Deputy Chief Constable, was put forward as Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa's preferred candidate to succeed Mr Goodman - who had been Chief Constable for three years. 

Amongst a career of high-profile incidents, Mrs Swann (pictured) led the multi-agency response to the Toddbrook Reservoir emergency in Whaley Bridge in August 2019. She has since been subjected to homophobic and sexist insults by online trolls, as well as appalling comments about her appearance on social media. 

The news that Derbyshire's Police and Crime Panel unanimously backed Mrs Swann was confirmed on Friday afternoon (14 August). 

It followed a full Confirmation Hearing, which included written submissions and questioning Mrs Swann in depth.  

Her suitability for the role was put to the test during a robust assessment process, which included delivering a presentation to a community panel, a media exercise and a final interview.

Earlier on Friday, Mrs Swann paid her respects at Derbyshire Police headquarters in Ripley, alongside Assistant Chief Constable Kem Mehmet, to PC Andrew Harper - exactly one year on from the officer's tragic death, when he was dragged for more than a mile along a road by a getaway car in Berkshire. 

'I've inherited a force set to face many challenges' 

Reacting to confirmation of her appointment, she said: "I'm absolutely delighted to be Derbyshire’s new Chief Constable. 

"During my time as deputy I have seen just how remarkable the communities across the county are – from the incredible resilience of those in Whaley Bridge, to the brilliant community work during the flooding late last year, to the current unprecedented national COVID-19 emergency which has seen fantastic examples of our communities and partnerships pulling together. 

"Those same emergencies have also shown the incredible dedication and professionalism of the officers and staff that I am now so proud to lead. 

"I have, from former Chief Constable Peter Goodman, inherited a force that is well set to face the many challenges that policing faces in the modern age, that is moving towards better representing those communities that we serve, fighting crime, bringing offenders to justice and protect those most at risk from criminality and harm in its many forms." 

'She's inspired other young women to follow in her footsteps' 

PCC Dhindsa says he was inundated with positive comments from colleagues after choosing Mrs Swann as the preferred candidate for the job, and believes Mrs Swann will be an "exceptional Chief Constable" who he understands has already inspired other young women to join the police force. 

Commenting after the full Confirmation Hearing, he said: "The panel agreed that Rachel is an outstanding strategic leader and wholeheartedly endorsed my proposal. I’m absolutely delighted as I believe that she will be an exceptional Chief Constable, totally focussed on keeping our communities safe. 

"Her refreshing and positive approach to partnership working has also been put to the test in the most challenging of circumstances, including the major incident at Toddbrook Reservoir and of course as leader of the Local Resilience Forum during the pandemic." 

He added: “Most telling of all though was the overwhelming number of messages of support and positivity from her colleagues and peers when Rachel was announced as my preferred candidate. She is now the first female Chief Constable of Derbyshire Constabulary and a diversity champion in her own right. I am aware that she has inspired other young women to follow in her footsteps and join the police force and I am proud to have her on my team. 

"I am looking forward to working with Rachel and tackling the issues that matter most to Derbyshire residents. I have every faith that her varied policing experience and proven strength in leadership across three East Midlands forces will ensure that policing in the county goes from strength to strength in the future." 

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