The challenge of our age

It’s already been a big week for us in Dyfed Powys. This week the Chief Constable launched a major programme of change to get us match fit for the demands of the future.

It’s a programme that our team has put a lot of work into over the last months. They were even busy here right over the Christmas break.

Like all change it involves difficult decisions and uncertainty. We must do everything we can to minimise the negative effects. But the opportunities by far outweigh the risks. In fact the biggest risk is to do nothing.

We must deliver for our public and our central government budget has been cut by 4.8%. So, over the next few weeks and months the Chief Constable’s team will start to reshape how Dyfed Powys works and to maximise those opportunities.

Why are we doing this? The first and most important answer is that we need to make sure all our efforts are focussed on delivering for the public. They pay for the police and criminal justice system to keep them safe. We must put them first in everything we do.

The longer answer is that we must respond to the needs of changing times. Technology and social change affect us all, including criminals. Crime is changing, moving online, into the home and often away from the street. Criminals are evolving faster, responding to any opportunity they can seize. At the same time, money is short. And people’s expectations never shrink.

Every generation faces its particular challenges. Ours is the challenge presented by the end of the mass state activity of the 20th Century.

The state left to us after the great financial crash of 2008 had run out of money. It was, and still is, doing more than it can afford to do. Fixing it and paying its debts will be the regrettable but unavoidable work of my generation’s lifetime.

The world we must prepare for is more fluid and more mixed than the one we left behind. We are entering a period – whichever party is in power – of a permanently smaller state. That doesn’t mean it’s less effective. In fact a smaller state likely to be more effective. And it doesn’t mean the things the state has done, like policing, healthcare and education aren’t important. It means that we have to find different ways of doing them – more voluntary action, more sharing of effort, greater social (rather than state) responsibility.

Public First is about preparing our police service to meet the challenges of our future. We are playing our part in fixing the nation’s finances. But more than that, we are taking the best of our traditions of policing and ensuring they will still be there to protect our children’s children.

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