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The Sheehy Inquiry: 'Changes require greater organisational freedom': Chief Constable

AT 51, Keith Hellawell, who left school at 15 to work as a miner, has reached one of the peaks of policing. As Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, he heads one of the largest provincial forces in the country, controlling 5,000 officers and an annual budget of pounds 269m. It makes him, he says proudly, head of one of the largest businesses in Yorkshire.

Unless he becomes corrupt or otherwise seriously brings the service into disrepute, he currently cannot be moved from his job until he is 65. Sheehy proposes to change that, introducing fixed-term contracts of 10 years and subsequently 5 years.

Coupled with the Government's intention to impose performance indicators on forces - 'Chief constables will be judged by results', Monday's White Paper said - Mr Hellawell and his colleagues know they can no longer assume they have a job for life. After Sheehy, they will be expected to negotiate new contracts with their new 'businesslike' police authorities.

'I look forward to the changes,' Mr Hellawell said. 'I think we should be paid more in accordance with the kind of money paid to the heads of large corporations; we are moving further away from being chief officers and becoming more like chief executives. In return we should be allowed the freedom to run our organisations and to be able to generate income.'