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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 July 2006, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
Police chief asked to step down
Maria Wallis

Devon and Cornwall Police's chief constable has been asked to resign.

The BBC has learned that senior figures in the Police Authority have asked Maria Wallis to stand down after losing confidence in her management.

The authority is holding a meeting about her future. It follows criticism over a pay review and a subsequent climbdown by the force.

Mrs Wallis, who has been in the post since 2002, has refused to go. She was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.

Mrs Wallis joined the force in 2002, but in 2004 she angered detectives in a row over pay and resources during a series of murder cases, and some withdrew out-of-hours cover in protest.

'Sense of relief'

Rank and file were also angered after some beat officers' photographs were published on the police website in a move to raise their local profile in 2004. Legal action was threatened before a compromise was reached.

In April last year the force backed down over a pay review which Mrs Wallis authorised and proposed cutting hundreds of workers' salaries.

The force said the review was designed to ensure staff were paid fairly.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is carrying out an investigation into allegations made against Mrs Wallis and assistant chief constable Caroline Winter following the pay review.

Crime reduced

Responding to the possibility that Mrs Wallis might leave, Steve Pierce, of the Police Federation, said: "I think that there will be a sense of relief. The constabulary has been sort of moving along a little rudderless at the moment.

"People will look at it and say 'with all the problems we have got it is time for a change'."

Keith Townson, head of fingerprinting at the force, said: "I think that there is a need for a injection of inspiration of the force for it to move credibly forward.

"If that means a change of leadership at the top then so be it. That is probably inevitable."

Mrs Wallis has also been responsible for an increase in the number of local beat officers since she joined.

Earlier this month figures showed the force had the fourth largest reduction of total crime nationally, down 7% between April 2005 and March 2006 against a national average of 1%.




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