What we ask the police to do above everything else is to keep us safe

What we ask the police to do above everything else is to keep us safe.

Safe by day and by night. Safe in our homes, and safe on the streets.

We need to feel secure if we are to live happily.

At this time of year, I sit down with the Chief Constable to see what is needed for the coming year if this overarching goal of safety is to be met.

I set out a strategy – ‘Keeping Safe’ – and he shows how it can be achieved.

Then I determine how it will be paid for – a mix of government grant and council tax.

In the last couple of years, although some crime has fallen, the growth of serious violence has caused concern.

We have to keep on top of that – and that means two things.

First, we need to come down heavily on those who resort to violence.

In the past, that was hampered by year-on-year cuts to police grants.

Last year in South Yorkshire we determined to increase police numbers – and we raised money locally to do it.

There are more uniformed officers now than there were a year ago.

We want to go on increasing those numbers and at the recent election all the parties accepted that police numbers had to rise – by 20,000 nationally.

Part of my job will be to ensure that this promise is kept.

It means that over the next few years we shall have 500 extra police with a clear focus on bringing crime down.

But the second thing we want to work at is stopping people getting drawn into violence in the first place.

At the end of last year I set up – with partners in the public and voluntary sectors – a Violence Reduction Unit using government funding, and the government has announced that it will continue the funding this year as well.

This is good news and we are bidding for £1.6m.

This will allow us to support many projects across the city and county that will help to steer people, especially the young, away from violence.

So in 2020 we will tackle violence in two ways – cracking down hard on offenders, but also getting upstream of violence happening in the first place.

At the end of the day, preventing violence has to be better than dealing with its devastating aftermath.