Last week I came back to work after a period of leave. I left in a red hot summer and stepped back into an autumnal August. The heatwave certainly made us very busy and I am grateful for the brilliant team work we have seen across the force to help us deal with a very high period of demand.
Last weekend was difficult and sad. The tragic double murder in Solihull touched most of us in some respect, whether it was trying to help the family come to terms with their tragic loss, reassuring the community, colleagues in contact, the painstaking forensic investigation, the detective work to find the person responsible or the wide manhunt that as I write is still ongoing. The sad loss of two lives has such impact on family, communities and all of us who serve. I thank all of you and recognise the impact such events have.
Before I went on leave I did an interview with the BBC describing what I think is our challenge. As the service has got smaller more of our work is being done over the phone. In lots of cases that is entirely suitable and effective. It is probably not always what people would aspire for or what they might expect. The public do value the compassion of a visiting officer in many cases. I am sure in some cases we may find some evidence we miss.
At times of peak demand, like the summer, our service gets stretched where we are slower than we want to respond and the service does not match what the public, and we, want. I am less happy about these circumstances and it needs to be reflected in an examination of the funds for policing and justice in the spending review that I am now working on with Chiefs.
I make these comments absolutely recognising the brilliant work you are doing which gives some excellent service, but at peak times it is very stretched.
Despite higher demand than last year I do think we have managed our response better than last year. Operation Even Keel has really helped and I and the FET enjoyed doing our own ‘bit’ to help shift a few jobs. It is good to keep your hand in and as always you do spot ways we can make things a little simpler.
As call demand dips we have residual pressures remaining with outstanding suspects we need to arrest. High front end demand always causes down the road pressure that we all need to pull together to meet.
While the summer has been very busy there have been some important highlights.
Final thoughts: as summer is ending, call demand drops back and more colleagues return from leave we need to ensure we get back into our priorities to push down crime. Whenever I push back on money it is never because I do not think we do and can make even more of a difference. We all owe it to the public to do the best we can.