02 November 2022

Novichok police force chief to retire

02 November 2022

A chief constable who led a police force’s response to the Novichok nerve agent attack in Salisbury has announced he plans to retire after completing 30 years’ service.

Kier Pritchard will leave Wiltshire Police in June 2023 having spent his entire career with the force after joining as a 19-year-old.

“The opportunity to lead this force as chief has been the greatest privilege of my professional career,” Mr Pritchard said.

“It really has been an honour serving the communities of Wiltshire.

“This county is very close to my heart – it is my home, it is where my family have grown up, and it is also where I followed in the footsteps of my late father in joining Wiltshire Police at the age of 19 in 1993.

“Taken together, we have provided over 60 years of continued public service.

“It has always been my intention to retire at 30 years’ service so that I can look to the next stage of my life with my family.”

Mr Pritchard became chief constable in March 2018 just as a major incident was declared following the Salisbury Novichok nerve agent attack on Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

While the Skripals survived, Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after she came into contact with a perfume bottle believed to have been used in the attack and then discarded. Her partner, Charlie Rowley, was left seriously ill but recovered.

Two Russian nationals have been accused of travelling to the UK to try to murder Mr Skripal with Novichok, smearing the highly toxic substance on the door handle of his home in Salisbury. Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement.

“I remain fully committed to leading the force between now and my departure in 2023,” Mr Pritchard said.

Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson thanked Mr Pritchard for his dedication to policing.

“It has been evident to me, since I became PCC, just how much Kier loves policing and has relished being at the helm of Wiltshire Police,” he said.

“Under his leadership, Wiltshire Police faced one of the most challenging periods of its history with the nerve agent attack on Salisbury – not many chief constables can say they successfully dealt with an international incident on their first day in the job.

“I have enjoyed my time working closely with Kier and wish him all the best for the future with whatever challenges he chooses to take once retirement happens.”

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