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Chief constable Peter Neyroud, the man in charge of the quango running the National DNA Database and other police computer systems, has announced his departure ahead of the election.

His retirement comes after criticism of lavish perks enjoyed by senior staff at the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA).

The agency spent £750,000 on repairs to a 1940s ornamental bridge at its country estate in Hampshire. It also emerged last year that taxpayers cover a £23,000 rent bill for Neyroud's Westminster flat, as well as his resulting £9,000 income tax bill. It spent £71m on consultants in 2007 alone.

The Tories have put the NPIA near the top of their list of quangos for potential destruction. Meanwhile Labour insiders claim current ministers have also lost confidence in its leadership.

In an interview with Police Professional Neyroud - nicknamed "two brains" by senior police colleagues - denied his departure was motivated by speculation over the NPIA's future.

The Home Office created the NPIA in 2007 by combining several existing agencies. With an annual budget of more than half a billion pounds, as well as the NDNAD, it is responsible for the Police National Computer, automated number plate recognition, specialist training programmes and police communication systems. ®

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