Essex’s top policeman, Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh, has been in post for a year. Here, he talks about the past 12 months – and the challenges ahead...

Q: You’ve made quite a few changes. It has been well documented that in the past year you’ve rid the force of a few “bad apples”.

A: The lovely thing about having lived in the county, and my father being an Essex police officer, is I had a greater level of awareness of how proud Essex Police are, and how important their work is.

There was an early commitment to support the good officers and staff and make sure those who were letting us down were held to account.

Q: When you took on the job, what were the priorities?

A: Before I arrived, Essex Police had been through a really tough time, going through what was called the Blueprint Changes.

I really respected they were looking for significant ways of finding £42million of savings, but, in doing so, the plan had been to remove the geographical responsibility. It meant local commanders didn’t have their own CID, or response teams.

When I started having performance meetings, the accountability wasn’t clear. It wasn’t working.

Q: So what did you do?

A: After eight months, I returned CID to local ownership and later this year, response is going to be returning, too.

The local chief inspectors and chief superintendents now feel they are in charge of something, and the local CID and response teams identify with their local areas that much more.

Q: And has that had an impact?

A: It has been reflected in the best detection rate we’ve had in the past five years. For the first time since we have had records, crimes are under 100,000 for the county – and satisfaction is up by 2.7 per cent, to 82 per cent.

Q: Are you still a policeman at heart, rather than a suit behind a desk?

A: My role is to provide an environment in which police officers and staff can do a job to the best of their ability.

I did nine years as a police constable and detective constable in London in a homicide team, so I wasn’t born to rank – I had done my apprenticeship beforehand.

I’ve been really committed to getting to know officers and staff.