Woman police chief urged to resign by her police authority

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One of the country's highest-ranking female police officers is fighting to save her career after being after being urged to resign by her local Police Authority.

Maria Wallis, the chief constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, was asked to stand down by members after losing confidence in her. Mrs Wallis, 50, who is in charge of almost 6,000 people including 3,500 officers and has a budget of £245m, is refusing to back down.

The ultimatum follows months of controversy after Mrs Wallis was criticised for a pay review for civilian staff which meant some workers faced losing up to £8,000 from their salaries.

The force later backed down over the review. Rank and file officers were also angered by the publication of photographs of officers on the internet and legal action was threatened before a compromise was reached.

The calls for her to go coincided with a statement by the Independent Police Complaints Commission that it was investigating allegations made against Mrs Wallis by a former chief superintendent.

Steve Pierce, the chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, said: "The constabulary has been sort of moving along a little rudderless... I think there are a lot of people dissatisfied with her performance within the constabulary."

As she has more than 30 years of service, she could retire on a full pension.

Despite her many critics she has had successes. Earlier this month figures showed the force had the fourth largest reduction of total crime nationally, down 7 per cent between April 2005 and March 2006 against a national average of 1 per cent.