Humberside Police Authority meets for final time 'but leaves superb legacy'
IT WAS the end of an era.
After 16 years, the members of Humberside Police Authority have met for the final time.
At 10am yesterday, they gathered at Pacific Exchange in Hull for the authority's last meeting before it is abolished and replaced by an elected police and crime commissioner.
Despite chairwoman Ros Taylor saying the meeting would be "business as usual", many members used the meeting as a chance to reflect on the authority's work.
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Mrs Taylor said: "I recently saw police authorities have been described as being unrecognised but effective and how absolutely true.
"For years, we have very quietly been doing our job, talking to communities, listening to communities, and acting as that essential bridge between the police and the community.
"I don't mind being unrecognised, as long as we are effective and I am totally assured that we have been."
The authority will be abolished on November 22, a week after the elections for police and crime commissioner take place.
Seven candidates are standing for the £75,000-a-year role.
At yesterday's meeting, Humberside Police Chief Constable Tim Hollis thanked the authority for its work in driving down crime across the region and ensuring the force's budget is balanced.
He was appointed months after the authority refused to support the Home Secretary's request to suspend former Chief Constable David Westwood in the wake of the Bichard report into the Soham murders.
Mr Hollis said: "I find myself in a strange position, being the bridge between what was and what is to come. As a chief, I have never felt the police authority has been anonymous or irrelevant to the public.
"The circumstances I arrived in, when the police authority stood up to the Home Secretary, were anything but low-key and anonymous.
"The force has been through some challenging times and its reputation was a bit rocky. Now, it regularly punches above its weight and I would like to thank the authority for its support and contribution to policing in Humberside.
"We have been through some significant challenges and the police authority has thrown down the gauntlet to me and my team but I think we have been successful."
Figures presented to the meeting showed crime had fallen across the Humberside force area by more than 50 per cent since 2003.
David Rudd, an East Riding councillor who has been on the authority for eight years, said the force had made huge improvements.
"I think we have left an absolutely superb legacy for the commissioner. There have been massive changes for the better," he said.
Several members also used the meeting to express concerns about the incoming role of commissioner.
Independent member George Southern said: "Not only has crime fallen over the last ten years but satisfaction and confidence have grown significantly.
"I think the performance of the force is unmatched by any other comparable performance in the public sector. I can't think of any other organisations that have delivered improved performance, year after year, for ten years.
"I think it is a terrible shame that the most key service that is offered to our communities, the protection of their person and property, is going to be subjected to political interference.
"I only hope our worst fears for the police service are not going to be realised but I fear they might."
Mr Hollis said: "A critical relationship will be that between the chief constable and the commissioner.
"They have a huge challenge building on the work that has been done around this table and that is a real concern."