Today, I refer you to the British writer C.S. Lewis, probably best known for his ‘Tales of Narnia’ who said “You can’t go back and change the beginning but you can start where you are and change the ending. For while even the most optimistic person will have found 2020 challenging, I believe we will win the battle with Coronavirus and emerge better for it.
I say that as someone in the privileged position of hopefully being able to make a contribution towards our county’s recovery when the opportunity arises.
You might ask “What has any future recovery got to do with a Police and Crime Commissioner?” and, writing this one week short of the eighth anniversary of my election, I accept that voters went to the polls on November 15, 2012 without having the job properly explained to them. You might recall the Government then was rather pre-occupied with the ballot that eventually led to Brexit, but I hope now that people have a greater understanding of what it entails.
For example, I hope now that people can see that a Police and Crime Plan, a PCC’s strategy for how the police should operate, has the potential to extend beyond tackling the crime rate. Every crime matters, of course that is its primary objective, but its wider brief is a blueprint for controlling police finances, which must care for both the wellbeing and working conditions of the men and women who keep the peace; it recognises the frustrations of youth, respects the elderly and fosters a harmonious and respectful working relationship with the public the police serve by making every contact count. I am confident for the future because of the problems we have successfully navigated in the past.
Eight years ago, negotiating ‘austerity’ was the challenge. Working closely with partners and other stakeholders my office helped bring stability to the Constabulary, re-vitalised the police estate and established a network of volunteer community-centred organisations through the Commissioner’s Fund that now stretches countywide and is a model of best practice.
Complacency is the enemy of invention and a Police and Crime Plan should also be forward looking and reflect prevailing circumstances. That is why protecting our green and pleasant county and a compassionate approach to all animals are new priorities reflecting our responsibilities as temporary custodians of where we live.
We have come through crises before and I am confident we can do it again.