A CHIEF constable abruptly took early retirement yesterday as it was confirmed he was under investigation for alleged financial irregularities and alleged misuse of the police computer system.
News of the departure of Dyfed-Powys Chief Constable Terry Grange came as a bombshell when it was announced shortly after 5pm last night.
A statement issued by the Dyfed-Powys Police Authority said, “The Dyfed-Powys Police Authority has accepted with regret the retirement of Chief Constable Terence Grange with immediate effect.
“Mr Grange had indicated that he had allowed his private life to interfere with his professional role as chief constable. This has led the police authority to consider the chief constable’s position and it was considered to be appropriate to accept his retirement.
“In accepting his retirement, the authority thanked Mr Grange for the leadership which he had brought to the force, maintaining its position as one of the best performing in England and Wales.”
A note added to the statement said, “No further statement will be issued and no interviews will be given.”
A spokesman for the Independent Police Complaints Commission said, “The commission can confirm that the independent investigation it is conducting into allegations against a Dyfed-Powys police officer is into Chief Constable Terry Grange.
“Although the chief constable has now retired, the IPCC is continuing its independent investigation into alleged financial irregularities. It would be inappropriate for the IPCC to comment further at this stage, but it will make a detailed public statement in due course.”
The IPCC also re-released a statement it originally put out last Thursday, which said, “The IPCC is conducting an independent investigation into a Dyfed-Powys police officer concerning misuse of the police computer system and alleged financial irregularities. It would be inappropriate to comment further.”
Plaid Cymru Llanelli AM Helen Mary Jones said, “I am very concerned about this situation. As I understand it, the normal procedure is for police officers not to be allowed to retire while they are under investigation. It is a matter of serious concern that the chief constable has been allowed to retire in these circumstances.
“I shall be writing to the Dyfed-Powys Police Authority asking for an explanation. It is vital for the confidence of the public in our police service that any decisions are made with the maximum possible transparency. I shall be making that point forcibly to the police authority.”
Ms Jones pointed out that when serious allegations are made against police officers, they are usually not allowed to retire because internal decisions could be taken that might impinge on their pension entitlement. It also removes the possibility of dismissal or other disciplinary sanctions.
Labour Mid and West Wales AM Alun Davies said last night, “This is a very curious matter. I was in the force’s headquarters only this morning for a meeting with the deputy chief constable, and there was no hint that anything like this was going on.
“Dyfed-Powys is an excellent police force. It would be a tragedy if the good work done by bobbies on the beat was affected in any way by these events.
“I have full confidence in the IPCC’s ability to investigate allegations against police officers thoroughly, whether they are the humblest PC or the most senior officer in a force.”
Mr Grange, 57, was still named as chief constable on the Dyfed- Powys Police website last night.
It is understood that his resignation was accepted at an emergency meeting of the Dyfed- Powys Police Authority at its Carmarthen headquarters, attended by just five of its 19 members.
One member of the authority, Labour councillor David Tucker – speaking shortly after the announcement was made – said, “I found out a long time after the meeting was held. I know nothing about this.”
It is understood Mr Grange only quit after asking Dyfed Powys Police Authority to back him, and being refused.
“He went to ask for the support of the police authority but it was not offered. He had not wanted to retire,” said a police source, who did not want to be identified.
Mr Grange’s retirement comes after, it is understood, he was given a two-year extension to his contract by the police authority earlier this year.
A spokesman for the IPCC said last night that now Mr Grange was no longer a police officer computer misuse was no longer within its remit. “Once he left the police force we no longer had any power to investigate him for computer misuse,” he said. “But the allegations of financial irregularities are different because, potentially, they could be criminal.”
Mr Grange’s resignation means he has also quit as a government adviser on child protection and sex offender issues.
The former chief constable joined the Army after leaving school at 15 with few qualifications and served with the Parachute Brigade.
He joined the Metropolitan Police in 1971 and after passing his promotion examination he was selected for accelerated training on the special course at the Bramshill Police Training College. In February 1988 he transferred to Avon and Somerset Constabulary as a superintendent and in 1989 Mr Grange was appointed head of the force traffic department.
Mr Grange was appointed an assistant chief constable in 1994 and became the sole assistant chief constable in 1998. He was appointed Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys in March 2000.
Mr Grange, a father of three, was based at the force HQ in Carmarthen. He had the personal crime portfolio with the Association of Chief Police Officers.
He is regarded as an expert on a range of issues, including domestic violence, harassment, rape, homicide and combating child abuse on the internet.
Since holding the portfolio, he has given evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on its inquiry into the police investigations of historic institutional child abuse and to the Victoria Climbié inquiry.
Mr Grange was unavailable for comment last night.
Acting Deputy Chief Constable Andy Edwards last night reaffirmed that the Dyfed-Powys Police Force would continue to maintain its high standards as it searched for a new chief constable. He said, “The force has an enviable reputation for performance and enjoys a close relationship with its many communities throughout the force area.
“None of that will be compromised as a result of Mr Grange’s retirement, following his long and successful association with the force.
“He leaves the organisation with another outstanding year’s figures in respect of all aspects of operational performance.”