‘It’s been tough but we had to do it’ - Cambs Police chief’s end of year message
Simon Parr, Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Police, looks back at 2011 and ahead to 2012.
It would be easy to think there is nothing positive or upbeat to reflect on or look forward to with the effects of the country’s economic situation being felt everywhere by everyone this Christmas.
But I believe there is so much to be proud of and positive about in the way the police officers, staff and volunteers who serve you have squared up to the demanding Government budget cuts and continued to make keeping people safe their number one priority.
Our focus here in Cambridgeshire has always been on keeping people safe and relentlessly targeting those who commit crime. And throughout the last year of unprecedented change, which I often describe as being eye-wateringly difficult, the number of people who are victims of crime in Cambridgeshire continues to reduce and number of people who are brought to justice for committing crime is increasing.
We knew we had to do more, with less. We are achieving that.
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Since last Christmas we have reduced the amount spent on policing in the county by over �4 million. It is a sad but inevitable fact that many good, hard-working and public spirited people have lost their jobs in order to make this cut. I take no pleasure in that and my thoughts are with all those who find themselves facing financial hardship, which is particularly difficult at this time of year.
However, what makes me most proud - and what I hope people living in and around Huntingdonshire will appreciate - is how new and innovative ways to work have kept the same number of constables and PCSOs serving you on the frontline.
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I made a promise to maintain these numbers soon after becoming chief constable. To know that the new police constables sworn into office only last month and the new recruits who will join us in March will help us to keep my pledge into the future is, I believe, a real reason to be positive.
We have spent this year thinking differently about how we can continue to make certain you get our help when you need it and ensure you can always make contact with someone who understands the area where you live and the issues that affect your life.
That is why in Huntingdonshire your new area commander is Chief Inspector Chris Mead who will be responsible for leading the team of frontline officers, detectives, PCSOs and Specials who work with you, in your communities, helping to deal with the things that matter most to you where as a police service we can and should make a difference.
Chris and the other five new area commanders will be the face of your local police service. He will be building the strongest possible links with the other services in your area to make sure that in future, by working together, we can be the strongest and most responsive team for you about the things that matter most to you.
There are challenges ahead. Not only are there more cuts to our budget yet to be made, the Government has also offered a grant to all local authorities, police forces and fire services that agree to keep their council tax commitments at 2011 levels.
Police authority must decide whether they take the grant or ask local people to pay a little more for policing in 2012.
This is a more difficult decision than it first appears because accepting the Government grant now could leave us with more cuts to make in future years. Those extra future cuts could threaten my police constable numbers pledge.
Before I became chief constable in September 2010, I could never have imagined the changes I would be responsible for making, the cuts I would have to impose. Yet the sense of public duty that I and so many of my colleagues - whether police officers, police staff or volunteers - feel has helped to carry us through the last year.
That spirit brought the force and the county together in the wake of the summer disorder in London and elsewhere. People returned from their holidays, worked round the clock and selflessly put the safety of people across Cambridgeshire first. Thanks to their commitment and dedication, there was only one minor incident of disorder throughout that difficult August week.
I hope you will all join me in thanking all the men and women working on Christmas day and throughout the festive period to keep us safe. We are grateful to you and your families for your hard work on this, and every day of the year.