Former Leicestershire Chief Constable found dead at his home in Kibworth - just 12 days after he retired

The news has come as a shock to the whole community

By Red Williams
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 6:54 pm
Updated Friday, 1st April 2022, 8:10 am
Simon Cole
Simon Cole

Home Secretary Priti Patel is today leading a host of heartfelt tributes pouring in for Simon Cole who has died just 12 days after retiring as Leicestershire Police Chief Constable.

The top Government Minister is saluting Mr Cole, 55, after he was found dead at his home in Kibworth Harcourt in the early hours of yesterday (Wednesday).

The county’s highly-respected former top officer carved out an outstanding career in the police for over 30 years.

Mr Cole’s death has now been referred to the Coroner, Leicestershire Police said last night.

The father-of-two was the UK’s longest-serving chief constable when he stepped down on Friday March 18 after carrying out the high-pressure law enforcement role for 12 years.

And Mr Cole’s sudden death has sent shockwaves throughout Harborough as well as the tight-knit senior policing community all over the country.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I am desperately saddened to hear about the passing of former Chief Constable Simon Cole QPM.

“He was passionate about delivering for the people of Leicestershire, the area where he grew up, and he dedicated his life to policing,” said Ms Patel.

“We owe an immense debt of gratitude to police officers like Simon and my thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.”

Harborough MP Neil O’Brien said: “I’m terribly sorry to hear this very sad news.

“Simon was a dedicated and committed public servant, who made a huge contribution across Leicestershire and Rutland.

“All of my thoughts and condolences go out to his loved ones, and all at Leicestershire Police who worked alongside him over the years,” said the Conservative MP.

“May he rest in peace.”

Leicestershire’s Temporary Chief Constable Rob Nixon said: “It is hard to put into words how devastating this news is for the entire force who loved and respected Simon.

“Our hearts go out to his family at this difficult time and we will support them as much as we can.

“We want to respect their privacy and the Coroner’s process and would ask that the public and media do so too,” said Mr Nixon.

“We are offering support to our staff and those who worked closely with Simon.

“I know Simon had a great impact on many of the communities of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland and his death will be a great loss to many of the people he worked with.

“All we can do is pull together and mourn the loss of a greatly respected man.”

A public book of condolence will be set up in the coming days via the Leicestershire Police website.

Cllr Phil King, the leader of Harborough District Council, told the Harborough Mail last night: “This is truly shocking news.

“I am absolutely shocked.

“Simon Cole lived not too far away from me in Kibworth and we did know each other outside work as well,” said Cllr King.

“My sincerest condolences go out to his family, his friends and all of his policing colleagues.

“I am still stunned by this awful news.

“Simon was involved with the youth rugby club here in Kibworth that my lad was.

“He was a genuinely good man.

“Simon had an excellent career in the police and was an outstanding public servant to the people of Harborough, Leicestershire and Rutland.”

Cllr Phil Knowles, leader of the Harborough District Liberal Democrats, said:''The news is deeply saddening and a real shock. Simon was in my opinion a leading moderniser taking the Police Service through some extremely challenging times.

"His service to the public gained him much admiration. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and former colleagues at this sad time.”

Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Rupert Matthews said: “I am shocked and extremely saddened to hear this tragic news.

“Simon Cole was the epitome of a great Chief Constable whose commitment to public service has been unswerving.

“We live in a safer place thanks to his leadership.

“I know that the officers and staff, past and present, of Leicestershire Police will feel his death keenly,” said Mr Matthews, who also lives in Kibworth.

“It was always clear to me that he was held in high regard and with genuine affection at all levels and I ask that people remember that in the coming days.

“They will be grieving.

“My thoughts and sympathies are with his family, friends and colleagues.

“I sincerely hope that they are given the time and space to grieve in peace.”The leader of Leicestershire County Council, Nick Rushton, has also issued a heartfelt tribute.Cllr Rushton said: “I’m terribly shocked and saddened to learn of this awful news.

“Simon was the youngest ever Chief Constable appointed for Leicestershire and Rutland, as well as the longest serving."We have lost an outstanding public servant whose mission in life was dedicated to making our communities stronger and safer.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his police colleagues and with his family at this sad time,” said Cllr Rushton.“I have ordered the County flag to be flown at half-mast as a tribute to the life of Simon Cole QPM.”

Adam Commons, Chair of Leicestershire Police Federation, said: “All at Leicestershire Police Federation - and all Leicestershire Police officers - are devastated to hear the news of the death of our former Chief Constable Simon Cole.

“Simon was a talented, approachable and inspirational Chief Constable - who diligently led our force for a decade,” said Mr Commons.

“He was also a friend to many of us, who cared deeply for his cops.

“The thoughts of all Leicestershire Police officers are with Simon’s family and his friends at this awful time.”

Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable Nick Adderley said: “My deepest condolences and thoughts are with Simon’s family, loved ones, friends and to colleagues across Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland.

"He was an outstanding Chief Constable and a great man.”

Mr Cole grew up in Leicestershire and took up his position as Chief Constable of the force in June 2010.

He was educated in Market Bosworth, Northampton, Oadby and Colchester before joining West Midlands Police on the Graduate Entry Scheme.

Simon joined Hampshire Police in 2003 as Assistant Chief Constable where he led on delivering Neighbourhood Policing.

He became Deputy Chief Constable in 2008 before returning to Leicestershire to head up his home county force.

Locally Simon represented the force on the Strategic Partnership Board, working with partners from all over the force area to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.

He had a huge impact on national policing portfolios and held a number of voluntary roles including;

· Visiting Fellow of the Department of Criminology, University of Leicester

· Member of the De Montfort University Faculty of Law Advisory Group

· Vice President Leicestershire Guides

· Vice President Leicestershire Scouts

· Vice President of Police Mutual, which aims to support members of the police family

· Board Member of De Montfort University (2017-2020)

· Trustee of Care of Police Survivors Charity

· Member, Oadby and Knighton Multi Academy Trust

He was a keen sportsman chairing the Leicestershire Police Sports and Leisure Section, Force Benevolent Fund and Police Sport UK National (PSUK) Lawn Tennis, cricket and Rugby Sections.

He was awarded a BA (Hons) in English Literature from the University of Durham, an MA in History from University College, Worcester, and a Diploma in Criminology and Policing from Cambridge University.

In 2014 Simon was very proud to be awarded the prestigious Queen's Police Medal in the New Year's Honours List and was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Arts by De Montfort University.

In 2020, Simon was awarded the Sir Robert Peel Medal by the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University.

The Sir Robert Peel Medal is awarded annually for Outstanding Leadership in Evidence Based Policing.

The Covid pandemic meant that it was actually presented in 2021.