2020 turned out not to be the year we were expecting - I recognise somewhat of an understatement!
A year that has tested the communities of West Mercia - its way of life, its economy and its public services.
It is also a year when the communities of West Mercia have shown their true resolve. A resolve to overcome, mostly without fuss or fanfare, whatever life throws at us.
The year started with prolonged periods of flooding across the three counties, followed swiftly by the effects of the pandemic. We have seen our public services tested, and we should be proud of the way the men and women who make up those services have risen to that challenge with a recognition that it isn’t over yet.
As Commissioner I have been proud to see West Mercia Police play their part in supporting their communities and keeping us safe. Whether it be dealing with flooding or the challenges of a global pandemic we have seen your local police step up and adapt to provide the support our community needs. Whilst the core mission to fight crime hasn’t changed we have also seen the police adapt to support our community to ensure the necessary social restrictions are upheld. I am proud they have done this with the overwhelming support of the community.
I recognise that this year has seen significant restrictions on our way of life, often resulting in periods of isolation from others, and robbing us of the physical contact that is usually an essential part of our humanity. We have to recognise that the cost of 2020 has been huge, both financially and emotionally.
As the page turns from 2020 into 2021, we enter the new year with a renewed optimism. An optimism that mass vaccination is starting to be rolled out and that some “normality” is on the horizon. Recognising we are not out of the clutches of the pandemic but daring to hope that the worst is behind us.
My mission as Commissioner is clear as we move into 2021:
To ensure West Mercia Police is match fit to fight crime and to keep us safe
To ensure we spend your money ever more wisely, investing in and transforming policing to meet the challenges of today, and be ready for the challenges of tomorrow
To ensure the communities priorities are at the heart of the policing mission
To support the communities of West Mercia as they continue to deal with the pandemic, but also plan for life afterwards.
I believe we can be safer as a society, that we can reduce crime and its impact, reduce the exploitation of the vulnerable - my Safer West Mercia Plan is focused on delivering this.
2020 has shown the strength of our collective resolve across Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin - 2021 may test it further but I have little doubt, supporting each other, the communities of West Mercia will thrive.