Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has confirmed he will not be standing for re-election in May.
He announced his decision at a meeting of the county’s Police and Crime Panel.
Mr Hardwick’s tenure was dominated by a controversial decision to suspend chief constable Neil Rhodes who was subsequently re-instated following a costly enquiry.
In confirming his decision to step down, Mr Hardwick defended his record - pointing to a reduction in crime.
He said: “I am simply retiring but I can do so knowing that I have achieved what I have set out to do as commissioner.
“Crime has reduced, a fair deal for Lincolnshire is on its way and we continue to deliver performance that is as good as and, in many cases, better than more well-funded police areas. Whoever my successor is, I wish them the very best.”
One of his final tasks was to get approval from the Police and Crime Panel for a 1.96 per cent precept increase.
Mr Hardwick says it means the chief constable will have sufficient funds to maintain the current force of 1,100 police officers and 149 PCSOs.
The police share of the rise in council tax bills will mean a weekly increase for a Band D property owner of 7p (£3.87 annually).
Mr Hardwick also believes Lincolnshire will get a fairer funding deal from central Government which could bring in an extra £8million.
A final decision has yet to be made.
Speculation now turns to Mr Hardwick’s successor, with Marc Jones (Conservatives), Lucinda Preston (Labour) and Victoria Ayling (UKIP) already in the running. Mr Hardwick stood as an independent and there is still time for other candidates to come forward.