Last week I collected our Christmas tree, so I now feel very festive It’s lovely to come downstairs to make the morning tea and be greeted by the fresh pine scent of the tree; it really does set me up for the day.
I love Christmas, it is great to have all the family home and have some time to think back over the passing year and look forward to a fresh, bright start in the new year.
It’s now two years since I had the privilege of being elected Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner; so only 18 months until the next PCC elections.
What will 2015 have in store for us? Some things we know and can plan for… but no doubt there will be a few surprises!
Looking back there has been plenty of good news this year; Suffolk Constabulary has reduced recorded crime by 8 per cent which is particularly impressive at a time of reduced budgets. This is a tremendous achievement and I am so grateful to Douglas and his team for their hard work and dedication.
The issue of moving the control room to Norfolk was a very tricky time for me, but I am absolutely sure it was the right decision to keep it in Suffolk and was extremely reassured by the public support I have received on this.
Financially we have our challenges but there is some good news. We’ve been very successful in securing significant sums of government money for various projects including joint fire and police stations (£434k), automatic number plate recognition (£1.2m), back office improvements (£330k), Lowestoft Rising (£38k) and the Transformation Challenge Award (£3.35m) to pool resources across the public sector. We have had to work hard to secure this funding, but it has been worth it to get this additional money into the county.
An important part of my role is to make sure we get the very best value police service we can, another equally important role is to support victims of crime. In October I inherited the budget for victim support in Suffolk and am now responsible for commissioning services to meet the needs of victims in the county. At least, victims are being placed at the centre of our criminal justice system. We had a major success in receiving £260,000 from the Ministry of Justice for supporting victims of sexual and domestic abuse. Last month we also announced a major initiative to help victims of domestic abuse – a particularly vicious crime. Lighthouse Women’s Aid is funded for three years to deliver a new county wide independent domestic advice service. This demonstrates my complete commitment to confront this malaise. The funding has allowed us to increase the number of independent advisers to support victims of domestic abuse from one to nine.
Christmas is a very special and thought provoking time of the year. It’s a time to think of family and friends… and the love and affection that the Christmas message should bring for all of us. You could say, I suppose, beneath all the fun and enjoyment there should be a greater tenderness and understanding shown to those who are less fortunate than many of us. Sadly this often gets forgotten.
I’d like to ask you all to spare a thought for those who work throughout the festive season to keep us safe and secure when most of us are enjoying ourselves.
There is much to look forward to in 2015 in spite of the financial challenges the nation faces. I seriously believe that if we pull together across Suffolk and do a little more to help and support each other we can look forward with great confidence and optimism.
Please remember to keep in touch and let me know your ideas by emailing me on firstname.lastname@example.org
To all of you, your friends and those closest and dearest to you, have a very happy Christmas and a peaceful new year.