HIS predecessor hailed it as “the best job in the British police service”.

It was four-and-a-half years ago when Hampshire’s top cop Alex Marshall took up position as Chief Constable following the retirement of Paul Kernaghan and during his tenure he has overseen some of the biggest changes to the face of policing and implemented the most radical cuts in the constabulary’s history.

But after signing a five-year pledge to be the man who led Hampshire police into a new era, Mr Marshall is preparing to leave the county next month, six months before his contract runs out, to take up a new role as the boss of the new National College of Policing.

It is the first time a professional body has been set up to oversee policing in England and Wales and therefore an opportunity Mr Marshall, who is currently paid a salary of £154,233, says he couldn’t refuse.

In his final interview with the Daily Echo he said: “I would have preferred to do the full five years but the new body is being set up now and it couldn’t wait the extra six months.

“The opportunity of being the first Chief Constable to be the head of the professional body is one that is very special and unlikely to happen again for many years. I want to be part of driving up professional standards in policing.”

Mr Marshall’s new role comes at a time when policing generally never strays far from the national headlines, from investigations of alleged corruption of senior officers to cutbacks in the service and the slashing of pay for new frontline officers wanting to sign up.

He said that had he stayed at the helm of the force he would have worked with Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes to look at what could be done about starting pay, which the Government has recently announced will be cut to £19,000, for fear it would not attract the right calibre of people to the job.

He added that moving to a new era where police worked in council or fire service buildings was “a good move” and one that saved the public money.

Reflecting on his tenure, Mr Marshall said he felt it had been a success in that promises he made to the public to protect the numbers on the frontline had been kept; the first phase of a drastic £50m savings plan had been delivered and crime rates had fallen year after year.

PCC Simon Hayes this week revealed that current Deputy Chief Constable Andy Marsh was his favoured candidate to succeed Mr Marshall, and that proposal will now go before a police panel who will either ratify or reject the idea later this month.