Seasons greetings to you all. I thought I would start with two famous Winston Churchill quotes. “Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing, but of reflection” and a quote following the attack on Pearl Harbour when he said, “Here’s to a year of toil, a year of struggle and peril and a long step forward to victory.”

It seems to me after nearly two years of fighting the global pandemic these quotes can help give us cause for optimism. I’m not suggesting the pandemic is as serious as a world war, but it has undoubtedly caused a great deal of trauma, economic damage and, for too many families and individuals, a huge amount of sadness and tragedy. The super-human effort of thousands of our fellow citizens to keep society going often at great personal sacrifice has to be celebrated and appreciated.

As this is a time for reflection, I think it is highly appropriate to say a huge thank you to everyone in Suffolk for their support, especially those working and volunteering in the Constabulary.

Their ongoing efforts, combined with those from many other organisations, have been second to none and, by working together this ‘Team Suffolk’ approach stands our county in good stead. We will defeat the virus and life will return to normality even if it does take longer than we originally thought.

New Year is normally a time for renewal and optimism for what lies ahead and I’m sure we all hope next year will be better than 2021. I never thought this time last December Covid 19 would still be causing such difficulties for so many.

However, this year has not been all gloom and doom; there have been some notable achievements within the force. The recruitment campaign has gone better than expected and we are on course to have 1,330 full time officers by March 2022 with numbers rising further, to more than 1,400, by the end of the following year – this is much higher than when I was first elected as your Police and Crime Commissioner nine years ago. Great progress has been made with reducing the threat from the County Lines and overall levels of recorded crime in Suffolk have reduced.

There will be a new Police and Crime Plan adopted early in the next financial year with its four main objectives: – an efficient and effective police force, supporting victims and a reduction in crime and disorder, improved public communication and engagement, and a greater emphasis on partnership working, which is important as many of the issues we face in Suffolk cannot be solved by the police alone. There were over 220 responses to our consultation process which helped shape the final plan and I’m very grateful to all of you who took the time to respond.

The foundations for successful implementation of the plan are largely in place. The work to improve the 101 service started this year and will continue. There are now three Kestrel Teams across Suffolk focussing on tackling and preventing neighbourhood crime such as violence against women and girls, drug crime and anti-social behaviour.

Meanwhile our Sentinel Teams are achieving some stellar results against hardened and violent criminals and organised crime groups – some of their work was documented in the television series, “Fast Justice” earlier this year.
New initiatives are being drawn up on a multi-agency basis to encourage the reporting of domestic abuse and improving detection and conviction rates. We all have to do much more to try and get rid of this terrible crime in our county, but I can assure you we will continue to support victims to help them rebuild their lives.

There are many other areas of progress which I will be explaining in future columns during next year. In the meantime, I wish all of you and your families a very happy and prosperous New Year.