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New chief at the helm for police force; Top officer promises to focus on what really matters to people.

Byline: David James

SOUTH Wales' new police chief Peter Vaughan takes up his post today.

The 47-year-old Aberfanborn policeman takes over from retiring Chief Constable Barbara Wilding, who is leaving after six years in the Bridgend hot seat.

Swansea University graduate Mr Vaughan has worked his way up from being a beat PC in Rhondda, where he started in 1984, to the force's top job - yet his career has not been without controversy.

He was ridiculed in the Police Review magazine and in national newspapers in 2008 after using his role as the Association of Chief Police Officers adviser on dogs to draw up guidelines that serving dog handlers argued could have seen searches put on hold if anyone in the house had an allergy or fear of dogs.

Mr Vaughan quickly moved to insist that the guidelines had been misunderstood and said that "in all operations effective policing will take primacy".

Mr Vaughan takes over the pounds 144,500-per-year role with South Wales Police at a time when the force is facing a pounds 12m budget shortfall and the possibility of further cash cuts in coming years.

He said: "We are facing a difficult couple of years for police budgets, given the current economic situation. But I am determined to focus on those things that really make a difference to the lives of the people we serve. But that needs to be balanced with the other things the force is required to do, such as policing major public events, tackling serious and organised crime, and counter-terrorism."

Despite its funding difficulties, the force last year achieved a drop in crime figures that suggested South Wales is the safest it has been in 20 years. Mrs Wilding has pushed through a process of moving warranted officers out of backroom posts onto the front line and replacing them with civilian staff.

Mr Vaughan said his priorities would not just be improving crime performance but also "the way people feel they have been treated by us and how well they feel we understand and address the issues that are most important to them".

He said: "I am immensely proud to lead a police force that I know can make a real difference to the communities it serves."

WHO IS PETER VAUGHAN? Born in Aberfan in 1962. Studied science and operations research at Swansea University. Married to Suzanne with two children.

Joined South Wales Police as a PC in the Rhondda in 1984.

Worked in all parts of the force area in patrol, custody, firearms and roads policing. As a superintendent, was the divisional commander for Merthyr before being promoted to chief superintendent commanding the Rhondda Cynon Taf division.

Joined Wiltshire Police in December 2003 as an Assistant Chief Constable. Returned to South Wales Police in January 2007 as ACC before being promoted to Deputy Chief Constable in April that year.

He is the chairman of the ACPO Police Dogs Working Group and has responsibility for the development of national policy and guidance relating to police dogs.

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The new Chief Constable Peter Vaughan
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 1, 2010
Words:511
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