As the festive season draws closer, I want to write to you, our police officers, staff and volunteers and thank you for your hard work and dedication.
2017 has been an extraordinary year, marked by appalling acts of violence and tragedy. You have put yourselves in harm’s way to keep the people of this country safe and your bravery and professionalism has shone through.
While terror attacks in Manchester and London have been widely reported, what should not be overlooked are the everyday challenges faced by the police. These actions are deserving of our recognition, especially over Christmas. When most of us will be with our family and loved ones, many of you will be on shift, keeping us safe.
Your everyday efforts have led to considerable progress. The Crime Survey for England and Wales reported a nine per cent fall in traditional crime from the previous year although I recognise that there are some real and concerning increases in violent crime. However, there is more to do and it is only right that this government supports you in doing your job by giving you the powers and protection you need.
That is why we are reviewing the law and practice around police pursuits to make sure police officers have the legal protection needed to protect the public. We expect the review to report early in the New Year and we are working with a wide range of groups to make sure all views are heard.
We also want to protect police officers from physical harm. This year, I have supported the Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill, which will increase penalties available to those who attack emergency service workers. It is unacceptable for those who keep the public safe to be assaulted, and this Bill will mean the punishments reflect the severity of the crime.
2018 will see new challenges, but I’m certain that the men and women of one of the world’s oldest, and in my opinion the best, police services will meet them head on.
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.