Remembering Ian Readhead OBE QPM

18th February 1955 – 17th June 2020 

Ian Readhead

Ian Readhead was the heart and soul of ACRO Criminal Records Office and his legacy lives on in everything we do. 

Ian joined ACRO after almost four decades in operational policing. He was Hampshire Constabulary through and through, starting as a police cadet at the age of 16 and rising to the rank of the force’s Deputy Chief Constable. 

Ian took to policing with the sole purpose of protecting the communities of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, a drive that informed everything he did. 

Throughout his police career, Ian’s focus grew to encompass policing and safeguarding across international borders; he attended the first European Senior Officers’ Course in 1992, was part of a special team working with Slovakian colleagues, and joined a project to share best practice on emergency planning with Romanian counterparts.   

Ian was awarded a Queen’s Policing Medal two years before his retirement in 2008. Hanging up his boots, however, did not yet mean more leisure time, because Ian was called on to lead the Association of Chief Police Officers Criminal Records Office. Better known as ACRO for short, Ian took on the role as the organisation’s first Chief Executive Officer. 

Leading for safer communities

During his time at the helm, Ian saw ACRO grow from a small operating unit in a portable cabin in the south of England to a thriving national police unit with a significant international profile. 

The criminal records information services ACRO provided grew under Ian’s direction, not just in demand but in range and scope too; notably taking on the co-ordination of subject access requests in 2009, the introduction of ECRIS in 2012 and the launch of International Child Protection Certificates the same year. 

If ever one man typified all it meant to be ACRO, to be single-minded about tackling crime and protecting people, it was Ian. In everything he did he wanted to know how it would help us bring offenders to justice and keep communities safe. 

In 2015, Ian was awarded the Order of the British Empire for services to policing and public protection. By this time he had gained international recognition for his work from police chiefs around the world. Whether it was signing an MOU with the United Arab Emirates, working with senior officers in Pakistan or the Caribbean, liaising with global ambassadors, or speaking to the media, Ian was always happy to lead on the discussions and negotiate the best outcomes for safer communities. 

In 2017, Ian fulfilled a decade-long ambition to sign an agreement with the FBI to formalise the exchange of conviction data between the UK and the United States. It was a momentous achievement and one that has paved the way for a greater level of co-operation and information sharing between ACRO and our US counterparts ever since. 

At the same time as leading ACRO, Ian also had responsibilities as Director of Information for the police service. It was a role in which he was instrumental in shaping policy and leading policing through changes in data protection, records management and Freedom of Information. 

The ACRO family 

Ian always said ACRO’s staff were its number-one asset, and as CEO he would often preside over leaving dos, cake-baking contests, and award ceremonies. He had a way of making his team feel special. 

If you worked for Ian, you were part of the family. He was a staunch champion of the Rock Challenge initiative, the grandfather of Hampshire Constabulary’s Families Day, an avid supporter of the force band and choir, and not forgetting, of course, ACRO’s resident Father Christmas!

When Ian retired from ACRO in 2017, the board room was re-named in his honour, and he could finally spend more time with his wife travelling in their caravan, more time at home and more time with his much beloved family. 

Thank you, Ian, for all you have done for ACRO, for its people and the communities we serve. We wouldn’t be here without you. 

You will be forever missed, but never forgotten.

Published 8th July 2020