North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick is standing down.
Mr Roddick announced at a meeting of the Police and Crime Panel that he will not be seeking re-election in May.
His deputy, Julian Sandham, a former chief superintendent with North Wales Police, is expected to try for the top job.
There were tributes paid to Mr Roddick at the meeting and Gwynedd County Councillor Dilwyn Morgan, from Bala, said: “There were great expectations on his shoulders and people who had doubts about the role and what it meant but he has set very high standards and brought doubters around to believe in the system.
“Whoever comes in his place will have very difficult shoes to fill.”
Conwy County Councillor Julie Fallon, Deganwy, said: “He will be a very hard act to follow,” and fellow Conwy Councillor Phillip Evans, Llandudno, added: “Winston brought to the role a wealth of knowledge of government, law and justice which have all helped us here in North Wales.”
Mr Roddick made history when he was elected as the area’s first ever police and crime commissioner in November 2012 when he stood as an independent candidate.
Despite massive budget cut-backs, his time in office has seen an overall reduction in crime of 11.7 per cent while victim-based crime has fallen by 10.5 per cent.
During the same period, the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads of North Wales has decreased by 17 per cent.
After Mr Roddick vowed to step up the fight against child sexual exploitation in North Wales, a new specialist team was set up last year.
As a result there has been a tenfold increase in the number of arrests of perpetrators – up from 10 last year to 107 so far this year.
A native of Caernarfon, Mr Roddick originally worked as a police constable in Liverpool, before studying law at University College London from where he graduated as a Master of Laws.
Mr Roddick went on to carve out an illustrious career as a barrister, taking ‘silk’ as a Queen’s Counsel in 1986 and later becoming the Leader of the Wales and Chester Circuit, a Recorder of the Crown Court and the first Honorary Recorder of Caernarfon.
In 1986, as a member of the first Welsh Language Board, he was responsible for drafting the report which led to the passing of the Welsh Language Act of that year. He was appointed as the first Counsel General of Wales in 1998, the most senior legal adviser to the Welsh Assembly.
He was also the first independent chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and the first chair of the Police Reform and Transformation Board for England and Wales.
According to Mr Roddick, the decision to stand down was a difficult one.
He said: “I have come to the decision to stand down gradually after considering it very carefully with my family and others over the past two or three months.
“It certainly isn’t because I haven’t enjoyed the role. It’s a very exciting role despite its very high demands.
“Following my election, our world changed. Our two granddaughters were born. The youngest is only one and the eldest is not yet three. They live quite far away and we don’t see enough of them and I would like to see much more of them. That’s not the only reason but it’s the main one for not seeking re-election.
“I’m not the young person I was but despite that I have lots of energy and lots of enthusiasm, and when I give up I shall of course renew my practicing certificate as a barrister, and I believe there are public responsibilities which I might be asked to undertake and of course I’ll take them, but they will be nowhere near as demanding as this role has been, enjoyable as it was.
“I am immensely grateful for the wonderful support I have received from my family and, of course, the exceptionally talented team in my office.
“The idea of police and crime commissioners was entirely new when I started so there was no precedent and therefore you have to do the best you can to plough your own furrow in a way that produces and effective and efficient police service and reduces crime.
“It’s been the success that it has because North Wales Police and my office have worked as one team to considerable effect. The understanding between me as a Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable, the relationship between us, and the relationship between my office and the senior officers, has been exemplary.”
Among the commissioner’s proudest achievements was setting up a pioneering centre to help victims of crime in North Wales. Demand for the services provided by the Victim Help Centre in St Asaph, the first of its kind in the UK, has exceeded all expectations.
One more high point for Mr Roddick was the creation of the Rural Crime Team which has slashed crime in the countryside and is now being copied across the UK and as far afield as Australia.
Specialist teams were also established to combat emerging problems like child sexual exploitation and cyber-crime.
Another successful initiative from the commissioner, supported by North Wales Police and North Wales Police and community Trust (PACT), was the use of cash seized from criminals to reward community groups devoted to tackling anti-social behaviour and combating crime and disorder which Mr Roddick describes as “poetic justice for villains”.
Mr Roddick also launched the Police and Crime Commissioner Community Awards to honour unsung heroes of the community who go the extra mile to make North Wales a safer place to live and work.
The latest crime figures show that North Wales Police is the best performing force in Wales and the only one where crime has been reduced, with a cut of three per cent.
Mr Roddick added: “Public confidence in the force is high and North Wales Police is doing a very good job in ensuring that people feel secure in their homes and safe in public places.
“These latest figures reflect well on the force’s dedicated team of officers and I am pleased that North Wales Police is in a good place. It is a good starting point for my successor.
“I’m not getting any younger and the burdens of this job are going to increase and therefore I think I’ve done my bit. It’s now the turn of somebody else. ”