He arrived in Huddersfield as a 10-year-old boy who couldn’t speak a word of English.

But Pakistan-born Jawaid Akhtar rose to become the highest-ranking Asian police officer currently serving in the UK.

Mr Akhtar, 56, started on the beat in Huddersfield and climbed through the ranks to become West Yorkshire’s deputy chief constable.

This weekend he will work his last shift before retiring after 32 years with the West Yorkshire force.

To mark his retirement Mr Akhtar yesterday joined his law graduate son Mohsin, 27, who is a PC on his dad’s old Huddersfield stomping ground.

The pair stepped out on the town centre beat Mr Akhtar first walked when he started his career.

Father-of-two Mr Akhtar, who has always lived in and around Huddersfield, said it was a proud moment.

“I started in the town centre and Mohsin will walk part of the same beat,” he said.

“Mohsin was selected through the same fast-track graduate system I was part of. Hopefully he will do well but he will have to work hard.

“There’s nothing automatic or easy about it but the potential he has demonstrated has been recognised.

“As deputy chief constable that’s great. As a father I am very proud.”

Mr Akhtar, who is married to Sughra and also has a daughter Sameen, 29, told how he came to Britain with his family in 1967.

The family settled in Hillhouse and his dad worked in the mills.

“I spoke not a word of English when I arrived,” said Mr Akhtar.

“It’s a new land and a totally new culture. It’s not just the social norms but everything.

“I came from a little village in Pakistan and everything was big and new.”

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Mr Akhtar quickly adapted and proved an able student at Fartown Secondary Modern School and Huddersfield Technical College before studying nautical engineering at Salford University.

He was the first member of his family to go to university.

Asked how that 10-year-old boy had achieved so much, he said: “I think God has been kind to me.

“It’s a combination of hard work and believing in yourself and others believing in you.

“You have to be single-minded and be ambitious but not have blind ambition. You have to do the best you can and hope that people recognise your skills.”

Mr Akhtar said he felt “privileged and lucky” to have achieved what he had.

As assistant chief constable, Mr Akhtar was in charge of the specialist crime units.

That included overseeing the Homicide and Major Enquiry Team and the North East Counter Terrorism Unit.

He led some high profile cases including that of Stephen Griffiths – the so-called Crossbow Cannibal – and West Yorkshire Police’s investigation around the retention of human tissue samples, part of a national review.

Much of his work, by its very nature, was unseen by the public.

Retiring Deputy Chirf Constable of West Yorkshire Jawaid Akhtar goes on patrol with his son PC. Mohsin Akhtar.
Retiring Deputy Chirf Constable of West Yorkshire Jawaid Akhtar goes on patrol with his son PC. Mohsin Akhtar.
 

Mr Akhtar said he wanted to see more Asian and ethnic minority officers in the force but quotas were not the answer.

“It is our desire that the police service reflects the make up of the community,” he said.

“Yes, we do need more Asian officers. You must remember we were not recruiting for three years up to 2012.

“It has to be the case that we select the right people with the right attitude and desire to work with the community.

“We don’t need quotas, we need talent. For the community to have confidence in the police they have to see people like themselves.”

Mr Akhtar, promoted to deputy chief constable in November 2012, retires tomorrow and there will be a big hole in his life.

“I will miss the people who work 24/7 rain or shine for the public,” he said.

“It was great to be promoted to deputy chief constable but the thing that still gives you the buzz is the operational side.”

Mr Akhtar’s policing legacy will live on through son Mohsin who described his father as “inspirational.”

Mohsin said it was very much his own decision to follow his father into the police.

“I grew up with the Police Review always on the coffee table and that was the starting point,” he said.

“People ask if I always wanted to follow in my father’s footprints but it was a path I chose.

“I aspire to leave my own footprints in life.”

Mohsin trained at Dewsbury before moving to Huddersfield in September.

So could he eventually out-rank his father and become chief constable?

“I do aspire for the top,” he said. “But I just want to do my family proud regardless of rank.”

Mohsin admitted his mum did have concerns about him following the family tradition.

“My mum wanted me to go into the law, which is what I did my degree in. She did worry about dad when he was on the night shift.”

Mr Akhtar has one main aim for his retirement – to resume flying.

A qualified private pilot he hasn’t been able to indulge his passion for a while due to work commitments.

“I think I will have to take my test again,” he said.

Tributes have been paid to retiring deputy chief constable Jawaid Akhtar.

His boss, West Yorkshire’s chief constable Mark Gilmore, hailed Mr Akhtar for the “very significant and selfless contribution” he had made both locally and nationally.

Mr Gilmore added: “He has been a cornerstone of this organisation and gave me, as chief constable, invaluable support after I took up the post in early 2013.

“Jawaid has devoted his career to serving the communities of West Yorkshire and I am proud and privileged to have worked alongside him.

“His depth of knowledge, integrity, sound advice and ability to challenge issues in a positive and robust way have been a real asset to West Yorkshire Police and indeed the British Police Service.

“I would like to join with all colleagues in wishing Jawaid every success for his retirement. I know he will be greatly missed.”

West Yorkshire Police’s new deputy chief constable, Dee Collins, takes up the post on Monday.