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“I’m assured that there is life outside of the police, and I’m looking forward to finding it…”

Leicestershire Police’s Chief Constable Simon Cole looks back on 34 years of policing – its highs, its lows, and what he’ll miss the most in his well deserved retirement. 

IF you speak to people around Leicester and Leicestershire, there aren’t many who’d have a bad word to say about chief constable Simon Cole. He retired from the role last month, after 12 successful, and somewhat challenging years, which have earned him the title being the longest serving Chief Constable in the UK.

“Currently,” he is keen to point out.

“Down to earth”, “humble” – a man with time for everyone. These are just a few of the things that you hear spoken regularly in relation to his name.

It’s true. When asked about his legacy and the mark he has made on Leicestershire Police during his time as Chief, Simon remarks with characteristic humility; “I think in a way, it’s for others to say what those things are.

“Some people have said some lovely things, which I deeply appreciate, but I think you need to stay grounded and remember that there’ll be people with different views as well,” he told Pukaar.

Simon Cole started out his Policing career down in Birmingham back in 1988, joining West Midland’s Police on the Graduate Entry Scheme.

After securing a BA (Hons) in English Literature, his original career plan was to become a journalist, something he aspired to as a younger man. However during his time at Durham, Simon was given the chance to shadow in a Police Force, and the rest, as they say, is history.

“I thought it looked interesting, and I said goodbye to any intent to be a journalist,” he revealed.

Mr Cole’s early years were spent in various uniformed roles within Birmingham. He joined Hampshire Constabulary in 2003 as Assistant Chief Constable, before moving to Leicestershire in 2010.

“It’s a place that I have a feel I have a great connection to,” he said of the county, which he grew up in.

“the diversity of the place – rural, urban… all the different communities, the different challenges, they are all things which make Leicestershire hugely appealing.”

Speaking about the most challenging things that Leicestershire Police has experienced in recent years, Simon pointed to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as tragedies in the city and county including the murder of Measham school girl Kayleigh Haywood back in 2015, and the Leicester City helicopter crash of 2018. 

But for all the devastating lows, Simon says that there have been many highs along the way, including the Leicester City Victory Parade.

But the people are what he’ll miss the most about the job, he insists.

“I know it’s a cliche, but it’s true. I work with some really remarkable people, and that is very stimulating,” he said.

“I get a buzz out of dealing with people – working with people and talking with people. That’s what  I’ll miss the most.

Speaking about his early interactions with people on the beat, he spoke about a whole “gummut of experiences.

“You go through the whole range – you get the hen nights who want to be photographed with a cop, but I’ve also been physically assaulted,” he revealed.

“You deal with really unusual jobs, but there’s a theme throughout all of it which is people who want support or help from the police.

“You have some fun along the way, but the nature of policing is that you deal with difficult things. You see life in the raw, but you deal with the rough with the smooth,” he added.

“It’s been hugely rewarding, and also significantly challenging at times.”

Asked how he’d like to be remembered, Simon, who was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 2014, admitted that it was a question which he found very hard to answer.

“Feel a bit uncomfortable talking about that myself, and there’s a part of me that thinks that it’s for others to say,” he emphasised.

“But I hope that people would think that I’ve been fair, and that I have tried to make the world a better place – if that doesn’t sound too cheesy!”

“Of course I have mixed emotions about retiring,” he added.

“It’s a bit sad, on the other hand it’s quite exciting to see what other opportunities there might be.

“I’m assured that there is life outside of the police and I’m looking forward to finding it.

“I need to get fit again, do some cycling and spend more time with my family. I’m looking forward to not necessarily having a phone that rings at strange times of the day and night!”

Simon Cole has been replaced in the role of Leicestershire Police Chief Constable by his former deputy Rob Nixon.

By Louise Steel

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