Huntingdonshire’s new top copper pledges to ‘strike fear’ into criminals

In the same week Huntingdon has witnessed a double stabbings which left two men in hospital, Huntingdonshire’s new top police officer has pledged to tackle crime. GAIL ANDERSON talked to Chief Inspector Chris Mead about his plans for the district.

IN the 20 years he has worked for �Cambridgeshire police, Chris Mead has been involved in some of the force’s most high-profile cases, including the murders of Soham schoolgirls Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells.

From relatively humble beginnings as a civilian control room operator, he has risen through the ranks to become the district’s most senior police officer.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s attacks on Oxmoor, in which two men were knifed, Chief Insp Mead said he felt ready for the challenge of policing Huntingdonshire.

“I have worked here before, so I am aware of the geography and many of the issues. Many of the crimes, anti-social behaviour and problems we experience here are very similar to other parts of the county. One burglary is very much like another.

“I want to make sure that Huntingdonshire remains a pleasant place and a safe place, and as crime-free as possible for its residents and visitors.

“I want the criminals to fear being caught and prosecuted, and I want to make sure that I share a vision where we do catch them.

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“I am passionate about investigating crime and catching offenders.”

Chief Insp Mead grew up wanting to be a policeman.

Much of his career has been based in Cambridge.

The 40-year-old father-of-three began there as a �constable in 1993, and was promoted to sergeant and detective sergeant within the space of seven years.

In 2000, he was awarded a divisional commander’s commendation for his role in an �800,000 drugs bust, which led to 20-year and 10-year prison sentences for the two main offenders.

His role in the investigation of the disappearance and murder of Jessica and Holly brought him more praise.

Then serving as a family liaison officer at the rank of detective sergeant, he provided a vital link between officers on the hunt for their killers and the girls’ families.

Holly and Jessica were killed in August 2002 by school caretaker Ian Huntley. He and girlfriend Maxine Carr, who gave him a false alibi, were convicted in December 2003.

Huntley was given two life sentences and Carr received three-and-a-half years for �perverting the course of �justice.

Insp Mead was praised for the successful prosecution of attempted murderers Darren Wisbey and Blake Tracey, who repeatedly stabbed dog handler Pc John Griffiths and were convicted in 2006.

He was also congratulated following the conviction of Matthew Miller and Terry Griffiths for their roles behind a series of armed �burglaries across Cambridge, and the investigation into the death of Cambridge graduate Daniel Bolger, who died after falling into the River Cam.

But, while the Chief �Inspector may be used to the limelight, he insists he brings the same commitment to every case, no matter how large or small.

He has already held �meetings with councillors – from parish to county level – to outline the restructure of the local force.

Chief Insp Mead insists the new-look team, due to be rolled out on April 1, will work hand-in-hand with community leaders.

CCTV is one area he believes would benefit from partnership working – although he insists the force cannot help fund the scheme.

He also has plans to re-invigorate �neighbourhood watch schemes and make greater use of volunteers.