Places and faces change in year of transition for Humberside Police
Crime Reporter Jenna Thompson looks back over a year of change for Humberside Police
FROM the outside, little has changed at Pacific Exchange.
The only hint at something different is the "for sale" sign attached to the wall.
Behind the doors of the former home of Humberside Police Authority, a seismic shift has taken place.
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Gone are the 17 members that made up the authority.
In their place is the first Humberside police and crime commissioner, Matthew Grove.
He is just five weeks into the newly created role after defeating the former deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott in a tense election campaign last month.
With a budget of £180m to plan and a police and crime plan to put together, 2013 is going to be a busy year.
"I didn't go for this job for an easy life," he says.
"I have a list of things that need to be urgently reviewed or considered and it is just getting longer and longer.
"There is a huge job to be done, but I am looking forward to the challenges ahead."
One of his first decisions was to put the former police authority building in Hull's High Street up for sale.
Mr Grove is hoping to use money raised through the sale to create a community crime prevention fund and move to an office close to the Humber Bridge.
"It is not an appropriate building for me and my secretariat to be based in," he says.
"It is too large, too expensive to run and it is in completely the wrong place."
In just a few weeks time, will come one of the biggest decisions of his tenure – the hiring of a new chief constable.
Applications for the £139,000-a-year role close next week, with Mr Grove expected to announce his preferred candidate in February.
He admits choosing a successor for Tim Hollis, who has led the force for eight years, is going to be a difficult job. Mr Grove said: "My feeling is we will have a good range of applicants and we will end up with a high-calibre chief to replace Tim Hollis, who is an incredibly hard act to follow.
"He is hugely respected and loved by his officers."
When Mr Hollis arrived in Humberside, the force was languishing at the bottom of the league tables, and was in "engagement" with the Police Standards Unit.
Its reputation had been battered by the findings of Bichard inquiry, which criticised Humberside Police over its intelligence-gathering in the wake of the Soham murders.
Today, the force is in a very different place.
Although it is still near the bottom of the tables, crime has fallen consistently across the region for ten years.
Public confidence is also at its highest level for years.
Mr Grove says he wants a chief constable who can build on and better those improvements.
"I want us to move up a gear," he says.
"Tim Hollis has brought the force from a very difficult place, but there is still a long way to go.
"Crime in the area remains unacceptably high, with the most serious of offences like violence and sexual crimes horrendously high."
At the same time as hunting for a new chief constable, Mr Grove will be putting together his first budget and a new police and crime plan for the region in 2013. I am working on those already, and there is a huge and difficult job ahead."
For officers on the ground, one of the biggest changes in the coming year will be the move to the new £30m Clough Road police station.
By February, the station – which replaces Queens Gardens – will be home to 700 police officers and staff and its 40-cell custody suite will be fully operational.
Plans to create the station attracted huge controversy, coming at the same time as the force had to save £30m from its budget.
And plans for another expensive new building are looming, with Mr Grove having to decide soon whether to approve plans for a £7m "corporate" building in Melton.
It is just one of many things on his "to-do" list for 2013.
"I said this was the job from hell, and it is," he says.
"There are significant challenges ahead and some very difficult and important decisions to make. But I am enjoying my work – there's never a dull moment."