SCOTLAND'S first woman chief constable has announced her retirement, with two other senior police officers to join her ahead of the creation of Scotland's single police force.

Norma Graham announced she will be retiring from Fife Constabulary this summer ahead of the amalgamation of the country's eight forces from April 1, 2013.

John McNab, the deputy chief constable of Grampian, has also put in his papers for retirement.

Next year a number of chief constables are expected to retire including Kevin Smith, the chief of Central Scotland Police and current president of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos).

One of the aims of moving from eight forces to one is to save money and remove duplication, which means the senior team will be smaller in future.

Mrs Graham's announcement comes just months after she was involved in a head-on car crash. She was taken to hospital in February after her unmarked, Audi Quattro was involved in a collision with a Renault Clio near Fife Police HQ in Glenrothes.The woman driving the Clio was also hospitalised.

Following an investigation, the case was reported to the Crown Office. It has been suggested Mrs Graham, 49, could be prosecuted in relation to the incident.

Mrs Graham, who has completed 34 years in Scottish policing, was appointed chief constable of Fife Constabulary in July 2008.

On joining Lothian and Borders Police in 1978 she rose to the rank of detective chief superintendent in charge of criminal investigation. Appointed assistant chief constable in Central Scotland Police in 2002, Mrs Graham later moved to Fife as deputy chief constable and was awarded the Queen's Police Medal for Services to Policing in 2008.

Mrs Graham said: "It has been an absolute honour to serve the communities of Fife as chief constable for the last four years and a privilege to lead the dedicated and hard working officers and police staff of Fife Constabulary who over the last seven years have been instrumental in almost halving crime in the Kingdom – a reduction of 49%."

Mr Smith joined Strathclyde Police in September 1977 when he was posted to G Division, serving from Orkney Street, Govan. He worked on the Lockerbie inquiry, in Special Branch and as Divisional Commander in the east end of Glasgow. He was appointed assistant chief con-stable at Strathclyde in 2005. He was appointed chief constable of Central Scotland Police in October 2008.

Mr McNab joined Grampian Police in April 2005. He was appointed deputy chief constable in October 2007.

Last week, The Herald revealed the top contenders for the new job to head the single force are: Stephen House, chief constable of Strathclyde Police, Justine Curran, chief constable of Tayside Police, John Vine, a former chief constable of Tayside and current chief inspector of the UK Border Agency, and Sir Hugh Orde, president of Acpo.

The post would be the second biggest in UK policing after the Met commissioner's role and is set to offer a salary of more than £200,000. The winning candidate would oversee a budget of £1.4 billion a year and have more than 17,000 police officers and 7000 staff at their disposal.

Ministers had said the post would not be filled until December but last week suggested it could be much earlier.

The Scottish Police Federation and Association of Scottish Police Superintendents want the new chief in as early as possible to ensure the service begins smoothly on April 1, 2013.

The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill is currently going through the Scottish Parliament. It is hoped that Stage 2 will be completed in May and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill suggested the post could at least be advertised at that stage.

Mr House is thought to be the frontrunner for the job. Both he and Sir Hugh narrowly missed out on the Met commissioner post to Bernard Hogan-Howe.