South Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner - 'Coronavirus has made us more uncertain - but there are some grounds for hope'

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Every New Year we look to the future with a mix of hope and uncertainty.

The hope is because we can see new possibilities and opportunities opening up and we know we can take advantage of them.

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South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings says police grant se...

The uncertainty is because we can never in the end control the future, and that makes us anxious.

Alan Billings, police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire.Alan Billings, police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire.
Alan Billings, police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire.

Most years hope probably triumphs over uncertainty.

But not, I think, this year.

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This year the coronavirus has changed everything, making us less hopeful and more uncertain.

Even so, there are some grounds for hope, not least in my world, that of policing.

This year, for instance, we shall have another round of recruiting, bringing more young men and women into the force – our share of the government’s 20,000.

They are keen to get started and make a difference.

By the time this period of large-scale recruitment comes to an end, we shall have seen police numbers increased in South Yorkshire by around 487 to about where they were in 2010, before the ten year’s of cuts began.

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In fact, we shall go beyond this number, because two years ago the chief constable and I decided to use some funding from savings and council tax to add a further 220 officers.

They won’t all be on the streets and in uniform – detectives, for instance, are not in uniform – but they will be helping to drive down crime and anti-social behaviour.

Some of that criminality has blighted our communities for too long and I am determined that this year we will join with all our partners to make a significant difference.

We will be taking new measures to tackle drugs – not just those who use drugs but the suppliers as well.

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We will offer those who are addicted ways out, but we will be ruthless in pursuing the gang leaders.

Through the Violence Reduction Unit, we will work closely with others to make the county safer for women and girls.

And we will be relentless in ensuring that criminals do not profit from their activities by seizing their assets and re-cycling them as grants back into the communities they devastate and cheat.

Every year brings with it hope and uncertainty.

There may be more uncertainty this year but a growing police force with some clear goals will be part of the hope of better things to come.

I wish you a Happy New Year.