Where has the year gone? As we look ahead to what 2019 may bring, I would like to take a little time to reflect on the year we are leaving behind.
On a personal note, it has been both challenging and rewarding in equal measure – feelings borne of the difficult financial situation we continue to experience, balanced by the fantastic support we receive from the communities we serve and the tireless efforts of officers and staff.
I have always considered myself lucky to live and work in such a beautiful, vibrant and safe part of the country. Couple this with the incredibly cohesive communities which Northumbria Police are an active and welcomed part of, and you soon realise the North East really is a special place.
I attend many events across the region throughout the year and the warmth and generosity I see and experience never ceases to inspire in me a sense of belonging which I can only hope you also feel.
However, such kindness doesn’t come by chance and I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for the support you show to the police and other emergency and public services.
It is all-too easy to underestimate the impact the smallest of gestures can have on our officers and staff as they go about their duties. Engaging with them, even through something like a simple ‘hello’, helps to create and build upon the positive relationships we are so fortunate to enjoy.
As a police force we are privileged to also receive a great deal of support from a variety of other agencies and charities. I would like to publicly acknowledge their invaluable efforts and thank them for helping to make the North East such a safe and enjoyable place to live, work and visit. We look forward to forging even more links in the future.
I hope you would wish to join me in thanking those amazing police officers and staff members who continually seek to go above and beyond in their pursuit to serve you.
No doubt many of you will experience further examples of such efforts over Christmas and the New Year, despite the backdrop of decreasing resources and increasing demand.
I recognise I am in the privileged position to hear, on a near daily basis, just how unwavering their commitment and professionalism continues to be and how they are consistently making a real, positive difference to people’s lives – for this I thank them personally and wholeheartedly.
The significant reductions in Government funding for Northumbria has already been well documented and our Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, is fighting for a fairer funding deal for us all.
I too have been vocal about how policing, as we have come to know it, cannot survive without substantial investment. As such, as we look to the year ahead, we face having to make difficult decisions. I assure you, I will seek to keep you informed of matters along the way, so you are fully aware of the nature and level of service you can expect from us going forward.
Whatever happens, we are committed to doing our absolute best to ensure you receive the policing services you rightly deserve.
In this regard, as I have made clear throughout this current year, our priorities will remain focussed on protecting and supporting the most vulnerable in our society.
Additionally, we will continue to focus on improving the quality of our investigations, working together to overcome problems and on crime prevention activity to prevent offences happening in the first place.
In keeping with our priority to protect the vulnerable, my final thoughts are with those who may find themselves in need at this time of year. Invariably, while many of us will be enjoying the fun and festivities, there will be those who find themselves in situations of crisis or conflict.
If this is you or if you know someone in such a position, then my message is clear and simple – please, please speak up. Help really is available, whether from the police or a number of other specialist agencies and organisations. By coming together to help each other we can all make a real, lasting and much-needed difference.
Once again, thank you for your support throughout 2018, I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a safe, happy, fulfilling new year ahead.
Chief Constable of Northumbria Police