A former Lancashire police officer, who went on to become Chief Constable of Bedfordshire, has died following a short illness.
Alf Hitchcock, who most recently headed the Ministry of Defence Police Force, was 58.
He began his policing career with Lancashire Constabulary in 1977 just before his 19th birthday.
He joined the Metropolitan Police in 2003 where he served as commander for specialist operations, progressing to deputy assistant commissioner and acting assistant commissioner.
Mr Hitchcock became Chief Constable of Bedfordshire in 2011, and became Chief Constable of the MoD Police two years later.
MoD Deputy Chief Constable Andy Adams said: “It is with deepest regret that I have to inform you that our chief constable, Alf Hitchcock, has sadly passed away following a short illness.
“Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time and I have already expressed our condolences, on all our behalf, to Helen.”
He left Lancashire Police in 2009 to become deputy chief constable at the National College of Police Leadership, before joining the Bedfordshire force.
While there, Mr Hitchcock was praised for leading the force out of a period of intense scrutiny regarding its performance and finances.
Mr Hitchcock served as national lead for knife crime from 2008 and as national lead for equality and human rights between 2012 and 2016.
He was the only chief officer to receive a ‘major’ award in the New Year Honours when he was awarded a CBE.
Olly Martins, former Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner tweeted: “Saddened by tragic news about former @bedspolice chief Alf Hitchcock. A warm smile and always professional.”
Dee Collins, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, said: “Just heard incredibly sad news about colleague Alf Hitchcock passing away. A gentleman and will be missed - thoughts with his family and friends.”
A statement from Beds Police said: “Alf was a hugely popular Chief Constable throughout the force, across partnerships, and many organisations that he became involved with across Bedfordshire.
“We are liaising closely with the Ministry of Defence Police where Alf was serving as the Chief Constable and our condolences and thoughts are very much with his wife and their two daughters.
“Our force flags are being flown at half-mast as a mark of respect, and a book of condolence will be opened in due course.”