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Christmas messages
17 Dec 2015

The Home Secretary, Justice Secretary of Scotland and Justice Minister of Northern Ireland have given their Chrimas Messages to the service.

Home Secretary Theresa May

As 2015 nears an end, I would like to thank all police officers, staff and volunteers in England and Wales for your continued hard work and dedication.

Whether you work as a neighbourhood officer building the trust of communities and responding to public concerns, in investigating crimes and ensuring justice for victims of crime, or as a counter-terrorism or firearms officer bravely responding to scenes of danger and violence, you should all be proud of what you do.

The importance of your work to keep the public safe can never be underestimated. This Government deliberately recognised that by protecting overall police spending in real terms over the course of this Parliament, giving you and the public confidence that policing will have the resources to do its job.

In the coming months, we will bring forward legislation to free up more of police officers’ time, enable greater collaboration and ensure better outcomes for people with mental health problems who come into contact with the police.

As we continue with these reforms, it is important to keep in mind what we are striving for: police forces which have the tools and technology they need, officers with the freedoms to continue cutting crime, and which drive value out of every pound of taxpayers’ funding.

I also want to celebrate the progress of initiatives such as Police Now and direct entry, opening up the culture of policing and exposing the profession to more women and people from different ethnicities and backgrounds. I had the pleasure of attending the celebration to mark the centenary of women in policing earlier this month, where it was clear that much progress has been made. But there is no doubt that more needs to be done to improve diversity in policing, and it cannot wait another hundred years.

As we look ahead to the New Year and the new challenges it brings, I would like to pause to reflect on those brave officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2015: PC Kevin Stoodley, PC Russell Wylie, PC David Phillips and PC Sahib Lalli. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten.

Finally, I want to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year. I am grateful for the professionalism and commitment you have shown in 2015, and look forward to supporting you in 2016.

Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson

This year saw the second anniversary of Police Scotland, still the biggest restructuring of an organisation in a generation. Policing in Scotland is continuing to perform well and the results in our communities are impressive.

This has only been possible thanks to the hard work of police officers and staff up and down the country and I’d like to extend my thank you to every one of our hard-working personnel.

The statistics speak for themselves. Recorded crime in Scotland is at a 41-year low, violent crime is down six per cent in the past year alone, crimes of handling an offensive weapon have dropped by 67 per cent since 2006/07 and we have over 1,000 additional police officers out protecting the public.

Understandably, the creation of a single service hasn’t been without its challenges. However, a major benefit of reform is that when issues arise – and there have been a few this year – the new structure of Police Scotland allows for a much more streamlined approach to investigating incidents and learning lessons than we have ever had before.

Prior to reform there were concerns that local policing would suffer, but we are now two years on and local accountability and the local policing that communities value and rely on is still very much at the heart of Police Scotland.

It is absolutely right that communities can have their say on the issues that matter most to them, which is why I recently announced the largest-ever initiative to gather views on what the people of Scotland would like from their police service. The information gathered will be used to develop new Strategic Policing Priorities, the framework set by the Scottish government outlining its expectations for both the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland. I’d encourage everyone to share their views and help shape the service for generations to come.

Finally, I am delighted that Phil Gormley QPM will take up the position of new chief constable of Police Scotland in January 2016. Mr Gormley brings with him a wealth of experience in policing communities across the UK, including an extensive background in counter-terrorism, and has previously held high-profile roles as chief constable of Norfolk Constabulary and deputy director general of the National Crime Agency.

I am confident that, under Phil’s leadership, the organisation will continue to develop positively in the months and years ahead. I look forward to working with Mr Gormley going forward.

Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford

As Justice Minister for Northern Ireland I would like to wish all our police officers and staff a very Merry Christmas and a happy, safe and prosperous New Year.

Throughout this year I have met police officers working in different communities and in a variety of different roles, and continue to be struck by your professionalism and dedication. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the work you carry out on a daily basis to keep people safe and bring criminals to justice. I know that my pride in the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is shared by the overwhelming majority of our citizens.

I also know that this year has brought both challenges and achievements for our police service. Structurally there have been significant changes with the move from eight to 11 policing districts to align with new council structures.

These new districts are helping to improve collaborative working opportunities, community planning and local accountability. We have also seen the National Crime Agency become fully operational in Northern Ireland and the joint working with the PSNI is already paying dividends in tackling serious and organised crime.

This year saw another mostly peaceful marching season and that is to be welcomed. Strong leadership and good community policing were instrumental in bringing about this outcome and the bravery of frontline officers at the, thankfully, few contentious parades is to be commended.

Regrettably, while the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland have moved on from our troubled past there remains a small, though unfortunately dangerous, minority who seek to return us to the dark days of violence. Police officers in Northern Ireland remain under threat and throughout the year we have seen attacks on our officers.

These dissidents do not have any significant public support – quite the opposite. Surveys consistently show that public confidence in the police remains very high, and a recent recruitment campaign attracted nearly 5,500 applicants. I hope it is a comfort to our police officers to know that you have this community support.

Looking forward to 2016, we face a potentially challenging period of commemorations with significant budget pressures on policing, as on all public services, and I want to reassure officers that I will continue to protect frontline services as far as possible. I am confident that despite such challenges, the PSNI will continue to provide the professional, quality service that all in our community have come to know and respect.


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