The chief constable of Warwickshire Police reiterated his support for a regional super-force as he announced that he was stepping down.

John Burbeck, who will retire in the summer, will be replaced by current deputy chief constable Keith Bristow.

Mr Burbeck said he was confident he was leaving the force in good shape and looking forward to the challenges of the future.

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He said plans to merge Warwickshire, West Midlands, Staffordshire and West Mercia forces offered Warwickshire the opportunity to build on existing good performance and move forward into a period of long term stability with emphasis on building strong and accessible neighbourhood policing teams.

He added: "My successor can take the force through the next phase of the restructure process.

"There will be significant challenges to overcome but I genuinely believe the long term future for the force and the communities we serve is strong and positive."

Mr Burbeck, who took up the post in August 2000, added: "I am sorry to be leaving but am as confident as I can be that this is a good time to be handing over the reins as we are about to start a period of positive and constructive change for the Warwickshire force."

Mr Burbeck said he was pleased that public satisfaction and confidence in Warwickshire Police had significantly improved during his six years in charge.

He recalled comments made by Her Majesty's Inspector of Police, David Blakey, in an inspection report of September 2000. At that time Mr Blakey concluded that Warwickshire "is a better force than it thinks it is".

"That comment summed up the force at the time. I inherited a workforce with ability and commitment but morale was low. Since then we have achieved a lot thanks to focused hard work and full support from the police authority and the public. We have made significant investments in staff and developed training."