The chief constable of Sussex Police has announced his retirement after five years with the constabulary.

Joe Edwards is to retire at the end of September when his contract with Sussex Police Authority runs out.

In his five years he has spent three-and-a-half as deputy chief constable and one and a half years as chief constable.

Chairman of Sussex Police Authority Peter Jones said: "Joe, whose national contribution was recognised by the award of the Queen's Police Medal in January, will be a hard act to follow, and we are all very sorry to see him go.

"He leaves a force in excellent shape, at a time when performance is hitting record levels and surveys show that peoples' trust and confidence in Sussex Police is improving month by month.

"There will be an opportunity at the authority's meeting in July for us to express our thanks to Joe for the outstanding contribution which he has made to policing in Sussex."

In an internal message to staff and officers chief constable Edwards said: "There is no easy time to leave an outstanding force such as Sussex Police.

"However, with performance and public confidence at record levels, it is perhaps the best time to move on. I hope to continue to contribute to national policing issues in some way."

The police authority will start looking for a replacement in May and hopes to appoint a successor by the end of July.

Brian Stockham, chairman of the Sussex Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said: "We are very sorry to hear the news as Joe has been an excellent leader.

"He joined our force at a difficult time and with our former chief constable, Ken Jones, turned our force performance around, lifting us up the much despised league tables.

"We would have wished to have Joe as our chief constable for much longer than 18 months."