SIR Patrick Hamill, the former chief constable of Strathclyde Police, has died. He was 69.

He was admitted to Western Infirmary on Thursday evening after suffering a suspected stroke and died yesterday afternoon.

Sir Patrick was regarded as a controversial figure who nevertheless succeeded in unifying the Strathclyde force and increasing the professionalism of its officers.

He was the force's first Roman Catholic chief constable and was in overall charge of security during the Pope's visit to Scotland in 1982.

During his career, he railed against spending cutbacks and clashed with Conservative councillors over who should foot the bill for closed-circuit television in the region's then five premier league football grounds.

Last night, the present chief constable of Strathclyde Police, Mr John Orr, said: ''The news of Sir Patrick's death has come as a great shock. As the second chief constable of Strathclyde Police, he contributed significantly to the development of the force and its strength and standing today.

''He was a man for whom I had tremendous respect, both as an individual and as a police officer. Our thoughts at this time must be with his wife and family as they try to come to terms with their sad loss.''

Sir Patrick was educated at St Patrick's High School in Dumbarton and joined Dunbartonshire Constabulary in 1950. He rose through the ranks there until he was promoted to chief superintendent in 1970.

After four years with City of Glasgow Police, he joined Strathclyde Police in 1975, and was appointed chief constable in 1977. He held the position until his retirement in 1985, when he was succeeded by Mr (later Sir) Andrew Sloan.

He was president of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland in 1982-83, and received his knighthood in the New Year's Honours List in1984.

Sir Patrick was also chairman of the board of management of St Margaret's Hospice in Clydebank. A new education centre which was opened there in 1998 was named after him.