THE town’s top policeman has spoken of the challenges ahead as he steps aside in a cost-saving reshuffle.

Ch Supt David Hull, Bolton’s most senior officer, will be leaving his post as Greater Manchester Police cuts almost half of its chief superintendents in charge of the force’s 10 divisions.

He will be replaced by Ch Supt Shaun Donnellan, currently in charge at Wigan, who will now oversee both Bolton and Wigan.

Police say the changes across the force will save up to £250,000.

Ch Supt Hull, who took on the role nearly three years ago, will keep the same rank and move to GMP’s headquarters in Newton Heath, Manchester, at the start of next month to work on a project to see how policing can be reshaped.

He said: “I am genuinely sorry and upset to be going. I really have a passion for the role.

"I have loved every minute of being in Bolton. Out of all of the roles I have had, this is the one I would want to come back to. I like the people and the place.

“I have given Ch Supt Donnellan a briefing and we have a series of meetings arranged for him to pick up the reins. He is very lucky.

“I am most proud of the work of the men and women of Bolton’s division. They are second to none. As a group of people they are trying their best to serve the community.”

Over the past three years, "victim-based" crime figures have fallen from 19,000 to 16,000.

Ch Supt Hull said: “I accept people are sometimes sceptical about crime statistics but there has been a genuine reduction in crime, in particular burglaries and violence.

“Are the people of Bolton now safer? I think they are. We can see victims of rape and child sex crime have more confidence in coming forward.”

Highlights of his time in Bolton include the launch of a child sexual exploitation unit in the borough last year.

It involves police officers, social workers and a nurse dealing with issues related to abuse and working on how to identify and prevent perpetrators.

He added: “People are prepared to come forward and are being taken seriously. They are being believed and the whole process through the criminal justice system is better.

"Work with women’s groups has told us our service in the past just wasn’t giving people the level of confidence to come forward.”

Ch Supt Hull said he was also proud to have been involved in the preparation of policing a number of protests including the EDL demonstration last summer.