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Monday, 11 February, 2002, 21:56 GMT
Mallon: the man in profile
Ray Mallon
Ray Mallon faced the media after his dismissal
Detective Superintendent Ray Mallon earned the nickname of "Robocop" for bringing his tough approach of zero tolerance policing to the streets of Middlesbrough.

His no-nonsense stance to burglary and other anti-social crime brought him friends in high places, including Tony Blair who visited him on the eve of the 1997 General Election.

But within seven months of Mr Blair sweeping to power, Mr Mallon's anti-criminal crusade had crumbled.

In September 1997, he was suspended from duty along with 58 other officers pending a criminal investigation, following allegations of misconduct.

Tony Blair
Prime Minister Tony Blair supported Mr Mallon's policy

Operation Lancet into alleged wrongdoing in the Cleveland Police force had begun.

More than four years and an estimated 7m pounds later, the long-running inquiry was finally brought to an end on Monday with Mr Mallon being effectively sacked.

The dismissal means Mr Mallon is free to pursue political ambitions to run for elected mayor of Middlesbrough.

Mr Mallon - the only son of an undertaker - joined the police in 1974 at the age of 19.

In 1994 he was appointed deputy chief inspector of Hartlepool and reduced crime on his patch by 35% in just two-and-a-half years.

New York

His method was to make life tough for known criminals and mount surveillance operations until they were caught in the act.

More famously, he developed the so-called zero tolerance policy which had proved successful in New York and instructed officers to clampdown on seemingly less serious crimes.

He was promoted to the position of Middlesbrough's most senior detective in November 1996 and Mr Mallon, vowed to quit if he did not reduce crime by 20% within 18 months.

He reached that target in just half the time.

But by September, allegations of wrongdoing within the force began to surface and the Police Complaints Authority took over an internal investigation.

Transporter Bridge, Middlesbrough
Mr Mallon plans to run as mayor of Middlesbrough

Just three months later, Mr Mallon was suspended on full pay and a criminal investigation began.

He consistently denied any wrongdoing and maintained he was innocent of 14 disciplinary charges - including neglect of duty and public misconduct.

The Crown Prosecution Service announced in June 2000 there was insufficient evidence against Mr Mallon to bring a prosecution

In August last year, Mr Mallon tendered his resignation from the force and announced his intention to run for Middlesbrough mayor.

Chief Constable Barry Shaw refused to accept the resignation, saying Mr Mallon had to be held accountable for his actions.

Last week Mr Mallon took a surprise course of action by pleading guilty to the 14 disciplinary charges.

Mr Mallon maintains he did nothing wrong and that he admitted the charges simply to allow him to stand for public office.

The mayoral elections on 2 May will decide whether the former Man of the Year - as voted by BBC Radio Cleveland listeners - still has the support of the public or whether his admission of guilt has permanently sullied his reputation.

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