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Ian Readhead: Tributes paid to New Forest's former deputy chief constable

Ian Readhead served at many stations across the constabulary including Hythe, Lyndhurst, Southampton and Winchester
Ian Readhead served at many stations across the constabulary including Hythe, Lyndhurst, Southampton and Winchester

TRIBUTES have been paid to a devoted former deputy chief constable who served with Hampshire Constabulary for more than 30 years, following his death aged 65.

Ian Readhead OBE, who had been suffering from cancer, passed away at his home in the New Forest surrounded by his family. Following his death on 17th June, police flags were flown at half-mast.

During his time with the force he rose through the ranks and served at many stations across the constabulary including Hythe, Lyndhurst, Southampton central and Winchester HQ.

Chief constable Olivia Pinkney said: “Ian has left us with the most wonderful legacy and set the tone for this force in a deep and vital way. So much of what I have the joy and privilege to lead in this constabulary was developed by Ian and on his watch.

“Described by colleagues as ‘Hampshire to his core’, Ian was ethical, visionary and generous with his time and wisdom, a great supporter of all our police family and mentor to so many. His leadership, service and kindness will be sorely missed.”

Born in Norley Wood, Lymington, to a commoning family, Ian left school at the age of 16 to join Hampshire Constabulary as a police cadet. He also gained 10 O-levels at Fareham Technical College.

Ian came in the top 200 in the country after taking his sergeant’s exam and was later posted to Southampton. Aged just 24, Ian was promoted to become the youngest police inspector in the county and one of the youngest in Britain.

Between 1979 and 1982, having won a scholarship to study at Southampton University, Ian gained a Bachelor of Law degree, returning to work at Fareham during educational breaks.

In 1986 Ian joined the traffic department as a chief inspector at Hulse Road in Southampton and then moved to Andover in 1989 as a newly promoted superintendent. In 1994, further promotion followed and he was made chief superintendent of the western division, his beloved New Forest.

Just one year later he was made assistant chief constable and then deputy chief constable in 2000.

Ian’s distinguished police career was recognised by his award of the Queen’s Police Medal in 2006. In 2015 he was also awarded an OBE in recognition of his services to policing and public protection. He retired as deputy chief constable in 2008 after completing 37 years’ service.

He then went on to become the first chief executive officer of ACRO Criminal Records Office, a national police unit based in Fareham responsible for the exchange of criminal conviction information between the UK and overseas law enforcement.

In 2017 Ian fulfilled a decade-long ambition to sign an agreement with the FBI to formalise the exchange of conviction data between the UK and the US.

Ian is survived by his wife Maggi and four children Paul, Stuart, Rachel and Lizzee, who said in a statement: “Ian made the most of every minute he was given, getting up at the crack of dawn each day, even on his days off, working tirelessly to give his family the best life he could.

“He was the person they would go to, whether it was for help in writing a letter, or changing a flat tyre, with spelling tests and interview scenarios, teaching them to drive, or cooking – especially at Christmas – and continuing this on with his grandchildren.”

In addition to gardening and family life, Ian also found time to run the local Cubs’ football team in Hythe on Saturday mornings.

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