As we prepare to say goodbye to 2014, I’d like to reflect on our achievements in community policing over the past 12 months and to praise the invaluable partnership work my office has supported.
My role helps me bring people together to deliver the priorities of my Police and Crime Plan. These are the priorities of the people of Northumbria and are the heart of the plan.
I’m here to ensure the Force delivers the plan and a big part of this involves generating confidence and ensuring people are heard.
We are taking our messages into schools and colleges to make young people aware of issues that might affect them in the future.
And I’m delivering the Violence against Women and Girls Regional Strategy – the first of its type. We set out to be at the forefront of work to protect women and girls and, by working with my PCC colleagues in Cleveland and Durham, this has become a reality. We are putting measures in place to ensure those who need help know where they can get it.
It’s rewarding when organisations appreciate and recognise the values behind our awareness campaigns. We’ve no better example of this than how businesses across the North East have embraced our domestic-violence workplace strategy.
We’ve seen companies including Helen McArdle Care, which operates across Northumberland, take up the training packages to help them deliver advice and recognise the symptoms of staff suffering from domestic and sexual violence and abuse.
This year has seen the continuation of Operation Soundwave with criminals successfully tackled head-on, particularly those involved in burglaries, shoplifting and car crime. I fully support these operations which show the public how we are working to try to eradicate these crimes and sending a decisive message to burglars who think it’s acceptable to steal from others.
Operation Soundwave has been pivotal in bringing crimes of this kind down across the force, and has been a great opportunity to promote crime prevention.
In the past year, the OPCC has given out grants worth more than £122,000 to groups and organisations across Northumbria. We work closely with the six Community Safety Partnerships and Youth Offending Teams to support the local delivery of my Police and Crime Plan.
The funding is used to help create and maintain crucial community ties, where projects are produced to reduce crime and disorder.
Another area where there has been significant change is the way we approach the night-time economy. I know people in the county travel to Newcastle for nights out and I’ve worked closely with Newcastle Council and the police to create a balance between people enjoying themselves, businesses benefiting from their custom and people staying safe by investing time and money into various initiatives. These include taxi marshals, street pastors, additional police resources and mobile CCTV.
We’ve also identified the need to educate and train public-facing workers, including door supervisors and taxi drivers and developed a training programme now embraced by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). It has been successfully rolled out with door staff gaining essential new skills in dealing empathetically with patrons.
This programme has been given the national seal of approval by the Home Secretary and is being used nationwide.
Other successes include the introduction of a triage team dealing with complaints against Northumbria Police. This team works at my office and provides a quick, pleasant and effective response to queries and concerns. Where necessary, action is taken with the officer who is the subject of the complaint.
We are continuing to work to reduce crime in parts of rural Northumbria and I’ve ensured the police work closely with residents, local groups and businesses. This work is paying off as we are continuing to see year-on-year reductions in rural crime and people becoming more security-conscious.
I’ll continue to drive good policing and support projects and campaigns in Northumbria that deliver the priorities you set in the Plan. I’ll continue to keep the communities of our region at the centre of everything we do. I wish everyone a prosperous New Year.