Manchester police chief found dead

MANCHESTER (Reuters) - The head of one of Britain’s biggest police forces was found dead at a beauty spot in north Wales on Tuesday, police said.

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Search teams found Greater Manchester Police’s Chief Constable Michael Todd, 50, near a mountain path leading to the summit of Snowdonia, the highest mountain in Wales.

Police would not comment on how he died, but said they were not treating the death as suspicious.

Officers launched a search after the father-of-three failed to return from a walk in the hills while he was off duty on Monday.

“Those searches carried on throughout last night and all day today,” David Whatton, the force’s deputy chief constable, told a news conference. “Unfortunately, this afternoon a body has been found that I believe is Michael’s.”

The BBC reported that letters addressed to his loved ones were found during the search near the town of Llanberis, Gwynedd.

Formal identification has yet to take place. An inquest will be opened in due course.

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North Wales Police said its officers and mountain rescue teams found the body at 2:50 p.m. In a statement, the force said: “Police are not treating the death as suspicious.”

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she was “shocked and very sad” to learn about the death.

“Chief Constable Todd had a long and distinguished career in the police service and has contributed greatly in the fight against crime and terrorism,” she said in a statement. “My thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues.”

Ken Jones, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: “Mike has made an enormous contribution to policing in Manchester and nationally throughout his distinguished career. As a personal friend and valued supporter, I will miss him greatly.”

A former assistant commissioner with the Metropolitan Police, Todd was one of Britain’s most senior officers.

He helped police the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, the Notting Hill Carnival and the large May Day demonstrations in London. He also worked in anti-terrorism and organised Manchester’s response to a wave of gun crime in recent years.

He joined Essex Police in 1976 and went on to become assistant chief constable in Nottinghamshire in 1995 before moving to the Manchester force.

In his spare time, he enjoyed mountain biking, reading and playing computer games.

Writing by Peter Griffiths; Editing by David Clarke