THE most senior police officer at Cheshire Police has announced he is to retire.

Chief Constable Dave Whatton, who is in charge of all policing in Cheshire, will step down in June.

It is believed the decisions is based on reaching 30 years service in the police, having also served with Greater Manchester Police.

Chf Con Whatton will discuss the decision closer to the retirement date, police say.

The father-of-three joined Cheshire Police as Chief Constable in December 2008, replacing Peter Fahy.

He was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in the New Year Honours List two years later, and has previously described cutting £10million from the police budget in 2011 as his biggest challenge.

The process to replace him has started.

John Dwyer, Police and Crime Commisioner for Cheshire, will make the appointment.

He said: "I enjoy a professional and productive relationship with Dave Whatton and whilst I respect his wishes to retire from policing, I would happily have extended his contract if he had so wished.

“We have made some difficult decisions together.

“These are big shoes to fill. I wish Dave all the best in his retirement.”

He is currently drawing up a shortlist of candidates, following the application stage, with the list due to be completed on January 31.

Interviews are due on February 10 and 11.

The new Chief Constable is expected to start on June 25.