A HIGH ranking Merseyside police officer, who is originally from South Lakeland, has retired from the force.

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Ward, who was born in Ulverston and lived in Grange-over-Sands, retired on Friday after joining the force in 1983 at the age of 20.

During his early career he undertook a variety of uniform, plain clothes and CID duties across the city.

That included working within the Force Major Incident Team investigating high profile murders.

He also spent some time at the Regional Crime Squad, tackling serious cross border issues.

He was deputy head of the Complaint Investigation Bureau as a Detective Chief Inspector before moving to the Major Crime Unit tackling organised crime in Merseyside, during which time he oversaw some of the largest drug seizures in the country.

Mr Ward was promoted to Superintendent with responsibility for Operational Support in the Liverpool North Area in March 2003 and then went to St Helens as the area commander with responsibility for delivering neighbourhood policing to the local communities.

He returned to Liverpool North in March 2005, as Area Commander, leading and directing more than 1,150 police and police staff within one of the largest and most challenging Basic Command Units in the country. His roles within Liverpool North included being Match Commander at Liverpool and Everton Football Clubs and Force Hostage Negotiator Co-ordinator.

In September 2012 Mr Ward undertook the role of Temporary Deputy Chief Constable within the force for a period of 12 months before returning to his role as ACC Matrix Serious and Organised Crime.

“I have loved every minute of my almost 33 years as a police officer serving the communities of Merseyside," said Mr Ward, whose mother Penny still lives in Grange. "I am fortunate to have enjoyed a wonderful career and I’m incredibly proud of what I have achieved with the support of some of the most exceptional people anybody could wish to work alongside, both inside and outside the police service.

He added that the highlight of his career was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in the Queen’s birthday honours in 2013.

“I really struggled making the decision to retire and I have had an amazing journey over the last 30 years, but as they say: ‘All good things have finally got to come to an end.”

Mr Ward, who was educated at Grange, Arnside and Lancaster Grammar School, has been replaced by ACC Nikki Holland.