Wiltshire’s police chief Patrick Geenty has pledged that the force will continue to be the safest in England.

Mr Geenty has been appointed temporary Chief Constable of Wiltshire for the next 12 months, succeeding Brian Moore, who has been seconded to the UK Border Force.

Mr Geenty, 54, has been at Wiltshire Police since July 2009. He joined as Assistant Chief Constable and last year he became Deputy Chief Constable following the death of David Ainsworth.

Mr Geenty paid tribute to his officers and civilian staff for their work in making Wiltshire one of the best in the country against a background of massive change, as the force has to save £15m in four years.

This has resulted in changes to the way officers work, non-replacement of some officers and redundancies among civilian staff. Coupled with that are national proposals to change police pensions and terms and conditions, and the election of a police commissioner in November who will hold the force to account.

He said: “Police officers and staff are going through probably the most significant change to policing in policing history. I’m enormously proud of what our officers and staff have done up till now.

“Their commitment to the public has been second to none and they haven’t taken their worries into the public arena, they have done their job day in and day out and done it really well.

“We are one of the best police forces in the country and I intend to make sure we stay that way. We have one of the lowest levels of crime and violence and our performance this year has been outstanding. I want to continue to deliver that so we will continue to be the safest county in the country and do that by reducing crime and anti social behaviour.”

He said the changes in the force – including response officers serving in hubs and traffic officers, dog handlers and armed officers serving in one unit – had resulted in better performance.

This year, the force plans to collaborate with Avon and Somerset and Gloucestershire police forces to train firearms officers at a new facility in Portishead, which will save money.

The freeze on recruiting police officers has been lifted and the force will hire 60 officers this year. Of the civilian staff posts that have been cut, about 75 per cent of employees have been redeployed to vacant posts in the force.

Another priority for Mr Geenty, who lives in Gastard, near Corsham, is to improve the quality of service the force gives to the public.

He said: “The one thing we are constantly criticised about is the public call us and tell us about things and we don’t go back to them and give them an update.

“We achieve about 85 to 90 per cent of updating people but I would like to achieve 100 per cent on a regular basis and provide feedback to callers. It’s a question of making sure officers and staff have got the right training, skills and technology to do that.”

Mr Geenty, who is married with two grown up children, said he would apply to become Wiltshire’s chief constable permanently once his temporary contract ends next March.

He said: “I love Wiltshire, I think the staff of Wiltshire are fantastic. I really enjoy being Chief Constable and I would like to lead the force through the next couple of years, as they will bring the most significant change in my service and I would like to shape some of that.”

Mr Geenty has been a police officer for almost 30 years after deciding that a career as a school teacher was not for him.

He previously worked in his home county of Gloucestershire and in Humberside.