Former chief constable Simon Cole found dead at home

Simon Cole, the former chief constable of Leicestershire Police who retired from the force earlier this month, has died.

Mar 31, 2022
By Tony Thompson

The 55-year-old, who has been a police officer for more than 30 years and led Leicestershire for more than a decade, was found dead at his home address in Kibworth Harcourt, Leicestershire this morning (March 30).

A cause of death has not been revealed but a statement by the force said the matter has been referred to the coroner.

T/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. 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.”

Rupert Matthews, police and crime commissioner for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland 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. 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.”

National Police Chiefs’ Council chair Martin Hewitt said: “Across policing we are deeply saddened to learn that our colleague and friend, recently retired Chief Constable Simon Cole has died today. Our thoughts are with Simon’s family, loved ones and colleagues.

“Simon was a highly respected and valued officer. He has been a long-standing and prominent member of chief constable’s council. In fact, as I described him at his last meeting, ‘the father of the house’. Over many decades, his leadership and impact have been felt by the people of Leicestershire and by all in policing. We will miss him.”

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. 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.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted: “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 dedicated his life to policing.”

Leader of Leicestershire County Council Nick Rushton added: “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. Our thoughts and prayers are with his police colleagues and with his family at this sad time.”

The Police Federation of England and Wales said it was “shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Chief Constable Simon Cole QPM”, adding: “Chief Constable Cole has been a true friend to policing during his career and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues at this terribly sad time.

“The flags at Federation House have been lowered to half mast as a mark of respect to Chief Constable Cole. May he rest in peace.”

Olivia Pinkney, chief constable of Hampshire Constabulary, where Mr Cole served as assistant chief constable from 2003, becoming deputy chief constable in 2008 before taking charge at Leicestershire Police in 2010, tweeted: “Simon was a much loved, respected and admired chief constable and person. We at @HantsPolice are thinking of his family at this awful time. His impact here as ACC and DCC was huge, and his loss will be mourned by so many.”

Scott Chilton, chief constable of Dorset Police tweeted: “Simon was a man of huge stature and devoted his life to public service. Respected and admired by so many. My privilege to have been led by him and learn from his wisdom. My thoughts are to his family at such a difficult times. A wonderful man who I will miss dearly.”

Patron of the Police Arboretum Memorial Trust, Sir Hugh Orde said: “We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of former Chief Constable Simon Cole QPM. Simon was a great supporter of those charities that commemorate and remember those who have dedicated their lives to policing. The Trust extends its deepest sympathy to Simon’s family, friends and former colleagues at this difficult time.”

A post on the LinkedIn page of the British Police Cricket Club said: “Simon was not only a hugely respected leader, he was a kind, warm and engaging officer who was proud of being part of British Policing, a huge advocate and active supporter of police sport.

“Simon loved all sport, particularly cycling, rugby, tennis and of course cricket. He was invited to join the cricket section as a vice-chair in December 2014 and was elected to the position of chair in 2017, a role in which he remained until his recent retirement.

“He backed this passion up with unwavering leadership, time and an absolute commitment to support the growth of police sport for all officers and staff. He saw the creation of a new BPCC Womens section attending one of the nets weekends at ECB Centre in Loughborough, introducing himself and chatting to the group before turning his arm over with some very suspicious looking leg spin.

“We will miss him enormously this season along with the leadership, support, humour and kindness that he provided over many years to players, officials and colleagues. On behalf of British Police Cricket, we want to express our deepest condolences to Simon’s family and all his colleagues in Leicestershire Police.

“Thoughts are with the family and friends of Simon. Rest easy Sir.”

Suleman Nagdi of the Federation of Muslim Organisations said: “I am devastated by this news and very sad. Simon was a man of great integrity and had earned his respect from fellow colleagues all those he worked with. I have known him for more than ten years not only as an exemplary police officer serving the community but also a leader that led by example and instilled confidence in all those that served under his command.

“He was always ready to listen to the concerns of the community and actively strived to deliver peoples expectations in a way that was very unique to him and his unique style of leadership and commitment to policing our wonderful city. It was not long ago that I attended his retirement gathering and I am sure that all those that knew Simon like I did will pain and loss of his passing.

“I personally join all those that mourn the loss of a greatly respected police officer and a wonderful friend.”

In 2014, Mr Cole was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in the New Year’s Honours List. He was also given an Honorary Doctor of Arts by De Montfort University and in 2020 was awarded the Sir Robert Peel Medal by the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University.

Following reports of his death, it has emerged that Mr Cole had been struggling with his mental health for many years. He took a three-month break from his role in 2013 and while the publicly given reason was an unspecified illness, former colleagues have revealed it was actually due to depression.

 

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