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7 July, 2016

Change is coming thick and fast

Blog post for Harrogate Advertiser - July 2016

When Harold Wilson said ‘a week is a long time in politics’, I don’t think even he could have quite imagined the last startling few weeks.

Five weeks. That is all it has been. Yet in that time we have seen the UK decide to leave the European Union, a new (female) Prime Minister, a leadership challenge in Her Majesty’s Opposition, Donald Trump officially nominated as the Republican candidate for President, Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, an attempted coup in Turkey and horrific slaughter in both the south of France and Germany.

Given all that, I suppose it makes sense to begin with what is closest to home.

A new Prime Minister has meant a new Home Secretary.  It remains to be seen how quickly and vigorously the new Home Secretary pursues the policies she inherited, but having met her last week, as well as the new Policing Minister, they seem extremely keen to keep the momentum up.  Top of their list, and very welcome from my perspective, is a new system for dealing with police complaints which will see them handled more independently from the police, and giving Police and Crime Commissioners a formal role to support the public. Also a priority is mandated collaboration between the emergency services.  Both changes are due to come in early next year and I want to be at the forefront of each.

I also warmly welcome our new Prime Minister.  While I will steer clear of the politics, I know she understands policing, which is a positive.  I also can’t let it pass by without saying how pleased I am we have another female Prime Minister.  Theresa May has quietly done a lot for women, especially in politics, and I share her belief that we need greater diversity across the public and private sector.

As positive as having the former Home Secretary as Prime Minister is, the prospect of Brexit is being felt in policing as much as anywhere else.  Again, I will not get into the politics of it, but now there has been a decision to leave the EU, policing will need to adapt.  My fingers are crossed that the UK economy will flourish over the next few years, but should it not, the government needs to understand that policing is relatively close to the front of the queue when it comes to public spending. That’s because security and safety are more important than ever. As always, I will press government for a good settlement for policing generally, and also that rural services like North Yorkshire get their fair share of money going to local policing.

We then move to issues further afield.  The police work extremely hard to keep us safe, not just locally, but at international level too.  Information sharing is absolutely fundamental to that, which is why the Brexit decision is an important one for policing.  Hate will not win the day though, and we must work as individuals and communities to combat radicalism and abuse of any kind in all its forms.

Lastly, with an American husband, myself and my family make frequent trips to the States. On one such visit a few years ago, my then young daughters collapsed into fits of giggles when they found out the gigantic building in front of them was called ‘Trump Towers’. With the very real possibility now facing us that Donald Trump could be the next new resident of the White House, it’s difficult to see who is laughing now.