PCC Blog 37 – A New Year Message

We usually begin a New Year full of optimism and hope.

We put past behind us and focus on better things to come.

But the coronavirus has changed everything.

We start this New Year in a strange place – suspended between hope and fear.

We are hopeful that the vaccine will soon be available for everyone, finally putting an end to all the suffering it brought since last March.

The fear is that this may not turn out as we hope.

After all, we had so many false dawns about getting on top of the virus all through 2020, yet it is still with us.

Indeed, in its latest strain, it is more virulent.

And while we are thankful that the vaccine was produced in record time, the down side to that is that we haven’t had long enough to test how long it immunises for.

So we are suspended between hope and fear.

But while getting on top of the virus may take a little longer, 2021 should still be a good year for policing in South Yorkshire, for these reasons.

We have record numbers of relatively young men and women wanting to join the force.

While this only makes up for the numbers lost between 2010 and 2019, we should not forget that the force they are joining is now in a very different place from where it was when I first became Commissioner.

It has gone from being rated as ‘requires improvement’ by Her Majesty’s Inspectors to being rated as ‘good’ – and ‘outstanding’ in terms of its ethical leadership.

It is now among the four top performing forces in the country – no wonder so many want to join!

And the police used the period of the lock-down to locate and disrupt organised criminal gangs something that will continue this year.

There are new strategies to deal with residential and commercial burglaries, much of it based on building a better understanding of how particular individuals operate.

And we are ensuring that criminals do not benefit from their criminal gains, not least by applying to the courts to seize the assets of known offenders.

Last year I began to redistribute these assets back to the communities from which they were taken in the form of community grants, and will continue to do so this year.

We may be suspended between hope and fear, but I want policing to be part of the hope of better things to come in 2021.

Wishing you a Happy New Year.