Column: Have a great time but stay safe

Chief Constable Stephen Watson
Chief Constable Stephen Watson
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Many of you will be winding down and looking forward to a well-earned break and precious time with your families, but the festive season is one of the busiest times of the year for the emergency services.

We want everyone to have a fun, enjoyable and safe Christmas.

You may well have heard at the start of December that we are running a drink- and drug-drive campaign again.

As part of the campaign, all the names of those charged with drink or drug driving offences during December will be published via our social media accounts.

There should not need to be any incentive to dissuade people from putting their fellow citizens in danger, but perhaps the prospect of being shamed in front of friends and family may focus a few minds. If this prevents one serious collision, it has been well worth it.

I am sure that many of you will look forward to socialising with friends and work colleagues in the pubs and clubs of our city and town centres during the festive period. You can expect to see our staff out working but I don’t believe that the job of ensuring the public’s safety in this regard, is ours alone.

There has to be a certain element of personal responsibility and to put it candidly, if you are too drunk to stand up, you are making yourself vulnerable, both in terms of your health and in terms of the risk of becoming a victim of crime.

Our advice is clear: stick together with your friends, recognise when you have had enough to drink, make sure you have a plan to get home safely and stick to it. If you can do all that, I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time.

I wish to pay tribute to the hard-working men and women of South Yorkshire Police.

It has been a tough year for them in many ways and no-one has enjoyed the negative headlines.

It is worth saying, however, that we have experienced some real successes this year, not least in relation to convictions around CSE in Rotherham, with 13 people across two trials receiving a total of 198 years in prison.

The results were a real tribute to the dedication and determination of the staff involved, and to the bravery and resilience of the victims. You may also have seen that Nathan Sumner was sentenced to 15 years in custody last week for the brutal attack on PC Lisa Bates.

We continue to support her recovery and look forward to the day when she is able to return to work.

It is a timely reminder of the risks taken by our officers every day.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the first five months of my time as the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police and I look forward to a very busy but productive 2017.

I remain extremely proud to lead a talented and committed group of people and I am genuinely excited about the journey we have embarked upon.

Merry Christmas to you all.