Zoe’s first blog – May 2022

Commissioner Zoe, outside, in front of her office
Hello everyone, and welcome to the first of what I hope will become a series of blog posts.

Hello everyone, and welcome to the first of what I hope will become a series of blog posts updating you all on my work as Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire and York.

It’s my hope that this blog will provide an insight into the role of a Commissioner and shine a light on the whole team involved in delivering services and supporting our community.

It has been six months since I came into post, so I thought it’s a good starting point to look back over these months and share with you the key conversations, learning and moments that are shaping this journey.

Many people don’t realise that I officially took on and started my role immediately after the election was declared on Friday 26 November, starting with a meeting with my Chief Executive Simon Dennis the very next day. The opportunity came at the right time in my life both professionally and personally and I was ready to take on something bigger and start a new chapter.

You can read more about my achievements and motivations in a recently published biography on the website: www.northyorkshire-pfcc.gov.uk/commissioner/zoe_metcalfe/

I started my first working day meeting with those with lived experience of being victims which soon followed with one of my first major decisions, approving the progression of the new Victims Centre which will see an investment over £1m in the project.  I started my role as I will continue, ensuring victims and the vulnerable are at the heart of how I will approach the role.

I was soon introduced to the Chief Constable Lisa Winward and the Chief Fire Officer Jonathan Foster within my first week, alongside Senior Leadership Teams at both our Fire and Rescue Service and North Yorkshire Police and enableNY, who provide the support function for both Services.

Michael Porter, my Chief Finance Officer was another immediate introduction as there needed to be a conversation about the council tax precept with the deadline drawing closer. I’ve always been a part of these discussions in my role as a Councillor, but this was an important first decision effecting the public which had to be made very quickly.

Very soon after becoming Commissioner the country went back into lockdown restrictions because of the Omicron variant and consequently further meetings and introductions all happened virtually online. My Executive Management Team and I had to work really hard, really fast to help establish those initial relationships with key people and organisations over Microsoft Teams, and I feel we all knitted together really well.

I’ve now met with all members of staff within the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (OPFCC) individually, who are employed to support the elected Commissioner for North Yorkshire and York. I wanted to make sure I understood everyone’s role, motivation and recognise their importance in the work we are delivering together for our community, and everyone has been so welcoming. I have a team of people supporting me and the important work that gets done is a collective effort – did you know that the OPFCC commission and deliver around £5million worth of services that support victims, perpetrators, those who are most vulnerable and keep communities safe? I plan to talk more in depth about the work of my Office in future blog posts.

The breadth of this role is quite amazing, the amount of learning you must absorb quickly as a new Commissioner is immense, and I have a great team working hard around me which I’m sincerely grateful for. I would like to thank them for helping me to settle in, and for their dedication and hard work.

Alongside the strategic planning, decision making and setting priorities, I’ve also been visiting the police and fire estate. An interesting experience was visiting the custody suites in Harrogate and York and stepping into a cell – something I haven’t done before! Equally seeing the investment that is needed in our fire estate.

Another new experience was attending the award ceremonies held by the police and fire services which celebrate bravery and years of service. I sat there listening to what our service men and women have achieved, hearing how they risk their lives even in carefully controlled situations to help people and save others. The accountability and responsibility I have for our services and people who work for them empowers me to work tirelessly on their and your behalf, and I won’t be happy unless I’ve done everything to make positive change.

Reflecting on the last six months, the journey has been like a jigsaw. The jigsaw pieces are all the people and teams I’ve met, my induction period was how all the pieces fit together, and now I’m not only living and breathing the role, but colouring in the pieces to add my own stamp and make positive change.

Coming out of this induction period, I want to be visible.  I’m not the kind of person to sit behind a desk and I’ll be splitting my time between the OPFCC in Harrogate, Police and Fire Headquarters in Northallerton, visiting the police and fire estate across the county, and I’m hoping to be more present in the City of York in the coming months too. I’ll also be getting out to speak to people and engage with communities, aiming to be as accessible as possible across our large rural area.

It’s important to me that you know I am here to listen, and that I will take action on community safety concerns. I want everyone in North Yorkshire and York to be safe and feel safe, which is a theme running through in all of the work I’m doing as Commissioner.

I therefore want to encourage you to make use of my monthly advice surgeries, where I can discuss any matters you think should be brought to my attention relating to policing or the fire service in your community. You can request an appointment anytime via the enquiry form on the website. www.northyorkshire-pfcc.gov.uk/advice

I also host monthly Public Accountability Meetings (PAM) alongside the Chief Constable and Chief  Fire Officer where I assign topics to discuss and receive service updates. These meetings are currently live streamed and recorded on our YouTube Channel for you to watch, and I encourage you to send in any questions you may have which we can address. More information can be found on the PAM webpage. www.northyorkshire-pfcc.gov.uk/pam

Looking ahead

  • I will be launching my Police and Crime Plan and Fire and Rescue plan
  • I will be launching our join partnership Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy
  • I will be holding Road Safety Roadshows across North Yorkshire and York
  • I’ll be holding a consultation on the services provided by North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • There will be increasing opportunity for me to be out in the community and engaging with the public.

Thank you for reading and stay safe.

Commissioner Zoë.