The north’s police chief has been replaced after just a year in the job, it can be revealed.
The Press and Journal has learned that Highlands and Islands Divisional Commander, acting Chief Superintendent Philip MacRae, has switched to another role in the force’s command team in Inverness.
He has been succeeded by Ch Supt George MacDonald, who was previously based in Aberdeen and started in his new position in the Highland capital on Monday.
Mr MacRae was only appointed commander in May last year, describing it at the time as “the best job in the world – the pinnacle of a career, you could say”.
Last night, the force would only say that he has now been moved to a role responsible for “partnership working” across the region, a senior position liaising with public bodies including local authorities.
The new police chief, Mr MacDonald, said he was “humbled and extremely proud” to be “coming home” to the Highlands as the force’s regional commander.
Originally from north Sutherland, he began his career with Grampian Police in 1991 and has held a variety of roles, including operational policing at all ranks, CID, intelligence, and liaison with the public, private and voluntary sectors.
He has previously worked both within Aberdeen city and the rural communities of Aberdeenshire and Moray.
Mr MacDonald said: “I’m delighted to take on the role of divisional commander.
“From a personal perspective, I’m looking forward to returning to living and working in the area.
“I’m humbled and extremely proud to be given the opportunity to lead policing in the Highland and Islands.
“For me personally, this is one of the best roles in Police Scotland and it’s a privilege to have the responsibility.”
He added: “My initial observations are that we have excellent staff doing a fantastic job to deliver the very best for all the communities across the Highland and Islands. I look to build on these foundations.
“There are strong partnerships across the area and, similarly, it’s my intention to build on these to ensure the collective focus is excellent service and outcomes for our communities.”
Mr MacDonald takes the helm amid a looming row over the closure of police control rooms and sensitivity in the region at the deployment of armed officers.
The current salary for a superintendent ranges from £64,188 to £75,816 while chief superintendents are paid between £79,557 and £83,925.
Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie, a retired police officer and now the Scottish Greens’ justice spokesman, said: “Superintendent Macrae has made a very positive contribution during his time in post and I’m sure that will continue in whatever role he takes up.
“I look forward to meeting his successor and continuing the good relations I have with Police Scotland.”
Inverness-educated Mr MacRae joined Northern Constabulary in 1989 and served in a variety of roles in Tain, Lochboisdale, Inverness, Thurso and Stornoway.
A trained tactical firearms commander, in 2008 he performed the role of area commander in the Western Isles.
Before becoming divisional commander for the north, he served as head of corporate services, head of professional standards and then as programme manager preparing for the transition to Police Scotland.
Last May, Mr MacRae succeeded Chief Superintendent Julian Innes in the top job. Mr Innes retired after serving in the position for three years.