Stay safe and have a happy Christmas
This year has felt like a welcome return to normality following two years of the pandemic and restrictions to our daily lives. However, there is no escaping the fact that it has been another challenging one.
In February Russia invaded Ukraine, causing Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War 2. The subsequent rise in fuel prices, combined with a growing cost of living crisis, has had real implications for our communities, including our police officers and staff.
Policing as an organisation will be affected by this and the rising costs will have to be factored into all budget and resource planning for the year ahead. We have some difficult decisions to make and before we do that, I want to hear your views.
Public services across the country have also been under the spotlight this year. Pockets of inappropriate workplace cultures, attitudes and unacceptable behaviours still exist. We are not immune to this here in Gwent and these issues are rightly being tackled as a priority. But I strongly believe that the cases highlighted are not representative of most police officers in Gwent who are committed to serving and protecting our communities.
Despite the many challenges of the last year it is important to remember that we continue to live in one of the safest places in the UK. There are more than 200 police extra police officer posts in Gwent now than when I was first elected in 2016 and this is something of which I remain incredibly proud.
Policing is a physically and mentally demanding job. Often this means officers putting themselves at great personal risk and dealing with situations that most people will, thankfully, never have to encounter in their lifetime. These brave men and women are often facing real danger on the front line, and for this I say thank you on behalf of the people of Gwent.
I must also recognise and say thank you to our partners in health, fire, local councils, support services and charities who have shared the challenges of the last few years and have worked in partnership with the police to keep our communities safe.
Finally, I would like to thank you, the people of Gwent. We have seen fantastic community spirit continue beyond the pandemic and when I have been out and about in communities I have been heartened to hear people’s praise for their local police teams. I know that our police officers greatly appreciate this support.
So thank you again, and I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year.