Tim Passmore, Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner reflects on the past 12 months and looks ahead to 2022
This year seems to have flown by and here we are once again looking forward to Christmas and the New Year festivities. 2021 could perhaps best be described as something of a roller coaster because of our old enemy, the pandemic.
Last December I thought (misguidedly) Covid-19 would be well behind us and society would have been reconciled to its existence and adjusted accordingly. Sadly, this is not quite the case. For some there have been tragic consequences since friends and loved ones are no longer with us.
The latest virus variant, Omicron, reminds us we are still not out of the woods. I believe life is slowly returning to some sort of normality albeit with some adjustments to our working practices and behaviours. Collectively we cannot allow this pandemic to beat us and, especially at this time of year, we must do everything possible to remain positive and optimistic.
For me Christmas is a time for peaceful reflection on what has happened, family reunions, and also an opportunity to stay in touch with others – some of whom we may not have seen for several years, through mutual exchange of letters and cards. I always like hearing friends’ news and really look forward to this time of year. Overall, Christmas is an occasion to celebrate and be thankful for what many of us are fortunate to enjoy, remembering that throughout the world many individuals are lonely, ill and suffer from various forms of deprivation.
I must pay tribute to our police force for their ongoing commitment and enthusiasm to keep the county safe and help make Suffolk the great county it is. Naturally, there have been many challenges but, as always, the whole constabulary has risen to these challenges exceptionally well. As your police commissioner I need to thank everyone from full-time officers to staff and volunteers for all they have done – we are all deeply grateful.
The overall Suffolk policing news is good. The uplift programme for increasing officer numbers is well ahead of schedule and we are on course to have 1,330 officers by the end of March – considerably more than there has ever been since I was elected in 2012. Drug offences are down, and associated detection rates are up, and overall recorded crime levels are down.Clearly this is good news for us all. That said, I am keeping a particularly close eye on what more can and must be done (on a multi-agency basis) to reduce violence against women and girls, domestic abuse and online offences.
The New Year is always a time of renewal and hope for better days ahead. As we emerge from the gloom of mid-winter and the days start to lengthen, there are serious matters to address. The long-awaited Home Office funding formula review is commencing, and I need everyone’s help as I continue with the campaign for our police to receive its fair share of central government funding. Lobbying our MPs effectively is a very good place to start.
2022 is final year of the national uplift recruitment initiative. In Suffolk we need to appoint a further 70 or so officers which will take the overall police strength to more than 1,400 strong. At the end of January, I hope the Police and Crime Panel will adopt our new police and crime plan. The plan has a very strong emphasis on reducing re-offending rates and supporting our younger generations to make the right choices in life, so they do not end up living a life of abuse, addiction and crime.
Many issues facing the constabulary will only be solved by working together across all agencies including the voluntary sector and yourselves sharing that common objective to make Suffolk a safer place to live work travel and invest. I would like to thank all of you who completed our comprehensive survey on the draft plan and can assure you all comments have been very carefully considered.
Finally, I would like to thank you all for your ongoing support and wish you a very happy and peaceful Christmas and a prosperous New Year.