Wakefield Commander to Retire After Career Policing Across West Yorkshire
Wednesday 31 July, 2019
A Chief Superintendent who started his policing career patrolling in Keighley, and won a national award for protecting a family from a gunman, is to finish it as the most senior officer in Wakefield.
Wakefield District Commander Chief Supt Paul Hepworth, has announced he is leaving the force this September, twenty nine years after becoming a patrol officer in Keighley in 1990.
The Chief Superintendent said he was very sad to be leaving the force but looking forward to new challenges after a career spent policing across West Yorkshire.
He said: “I have been very proud to serve as a police officer for thirty years and my last three and a half years in Wakefield, finishing as District Commander, have been one of the highlights of my police career.
“It has been a really hard decision to retire as I love policing and the results we produce in keeping people safe and in taking criminals off our streets.”
After spending five years as a patrol officer in Keighley, Paul became a firearms officer in Bradford.
He was awarded a national Police Bravery Award in 1996 for an incident in which he saved the lives of a woman and child who were being threatened by a gunman.
It took place after Paul and his partner positioned themselves in-between the gunman and the car the victims were in to protect them. They eventually discharged their weapons, injuring the male who recovered and was jailed.
The incident saw Paul attend a ceremony in London in which he was presented with the award by then Prime Minister John Major.
Paul became a sergeant in the year 2001 and worked as a training officer before later moving to neighbourhood policing the Airedale and North Bradford District, as a sergeant and then inspector.
He was responsible for a huge drive to combat serious crime in the Allerton area in the mid noughties, which saw officers target all levels of criminality in a joint operation with partners.
The operation resulted in officers closing 23 crack houses in two years, target drug dealers, combat prostitution and also mount a campaign to improve road safety through a focus on poor driving and unsafe vehicles.
As a result of the operation’s success Paul received a trophy for outstanding police work in 2005 and was also nominated for that year’s National Community Policing Award.
Subsequent years saw Paul rise of the rank of chief inspector in Bradford before moving to the forces Protective Services and then headquarters as a superintendent. He became superintendent at Wakefield District Police in 2016, and then the District Commander in October 2018.
He said: “It has been a privilege to work in policing across West Yorkshire and my focus has always been to try and make life better on a street level in communities.
“While in Bradford, myself and my team were involved in a significant amount of work in trying to tackle very serious crime on the Allerton estate and it was very positive to see those changes take hold over time, and see residents really note and comment on the improvements,.
“Working with partners and communities effectively really is the only way in which we can make lasting improvements and that sort of close, co-ordinated work is something we continue to pursue in Wakefield.
“We have achieved some real results in the last two years in tackling anti-social behaviour in our city and town centres and have poured resources, with our partners, into issues which caused misery in communities such as illegal off road riding and drugs crime.”
Looking to the future, Paul said he was moving into education and would be working with children in the Bradford area.
Merran McRae, Chief Executive of Wakefield Council said: “Paul has been a great partner to work with, truly committed to all our efforts to make Wakefield successful.
"He has made a particularly valued contribution to our plans to improve children’s services, bringing personal leadership and energy to making sure we can change quickly, as well as always being prepared to try something new. He has truly made a difference to the district; we will miss him in our partnership working and hope he enjoys his retirement.”