Depending on when you read this, and how it finds you, you may be either recovering from Christmas or eagerly looking forward to celebrating the New Year. Whichever it is, I wish you a happy and healthy 2023.

As we approach a new year, a backward glance over the previous 12 months is inevitable, and as I was doing the rounds of the police estate on Christmas Day, a number of things occurred to me.

First of all, the magnificent dedication of those officers I met who were at work, and would remain so throughout the holiday, while the rest of us were at home with family and friends enjoying the celebrations. Looking back, it has been a difficult year for the Constabulary where much of its good work has been overshadowed by the measures that have had to be taken which, hopefully, will see it climb out of the ‘engage’ process. The result of an unfavourable report by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

It has undoubtedly been another challenging year, not least because of the extra workload as the police continue to be the ‘service of last resort’. A voice at the end of the line and a reassuring presence when all else fails. While some of this falls outside what would normally be expected of the police, it is often unappreciated and the effect on morale should not be underestimated.

We all expect the police to be there when we need them. And when they are not, due to a lack of resources or other pressures, their frustration is often as keenly felt as those they serve. My overriding view of those I met, is that they are all working extremely hard, they all want to do a good job but are exasperated because there are not enough of them and too many crimes.

Getting out and talking to everyone is one of my personal highlights at this time of year. On the one hand it is quite uplifting, but it also reinforces the scale of the job required to get the Constabulary back in the HMIC good books.

By now, I hope you have had the opportunity to take part in a survey that seeks to understand residents’ experience of crime and policing in Gloucestershire, which also includes questions on the rising cost of policing. If not, you can do so by clicking here