Axing PCSOs one of hardest but most important decisions of chief's tenure
- Credit: Archant
Norfolk's outgoing chief constable has described the axing of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) as one of the hardest but most important decisions he made.
Simon Bailey, the first person to have risen from beat bobby to chief constable in the same force in the country in modern times, will retire in June after eight years as chief constable and 35 years with the force.
Mr Bailey, 56, said it has been a "privilege" and an "honour" to have led the constabulary, during which time he has faced many challenges, including policing during the coronavirus pandemic.
But he has highlighted the scrapping of PCSOs as both his hardest and most important decision of his tenure.
Speaking after the announcement he is to retire on June 30, Mr Bailey said: "The hardest decision I’ve had to make was to stand in front of 150 people and tell them their jobs were going to be put at risk.
“But actually that’s one of the most important decisions I’ve made and still think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made.
“The move away from the model of policing with PCSOs now means we’ve got more officers tackling crime and serious organised crime than we’ve ever had and they are doing it to devastating effect.”
Norfolk's police and crime commissioner Lorne Green, who himself stands down later this year, thanked Mr Bailey for his "dedication and a commitment to deliver the best in policing for our county".
He said: "Mr Bailey has been an inspirational and courageous leader with a clear vision on how to re-fashion policing in Norfolk to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
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“His 2020 programme for change has made our constabulary one of the best in the country and he is recognised locally, regionally and nationally as one of the top police officers.
“His national leadership over many years on Operation Hydrant, addressing issues of child sexual abuse, has been nothing short of exceptional. He will leave the force in a strong position, as one of the few recognised nationally as outstanding for efficiency; a legacy of which he can be proud and one that will enable his successor to continue to ensure Norfolk Constabulary maintains its reputation for excellence."
Mr Bailey said the "timing was right" for him to move on but wanted to reflect on his time in charge of the force, including:
On retirement: He said: "I’m really proud of the fact I’m the first police officer in history to have served every rank in the same force. That’s probably one of the things I’m most proud of.”
On achievements: “I’m most proud of the ongoing evolution of the organisation. The organisation I’m going to leave at the end of June looks and feels very different to the organisation I took over in 2013. I’m incredibly proud of what I’m going to be leaving behind. Mr Bailey, national police lead for child protection, said he was also proud of the work he had done nationally in helping to safeguard children.
On drugs: Mr Bailey said the force had seen “amazing success” in tacking county lines drug dealing in the county both through Operation Gravity and the link up with the Metropolitan Police, codenamed Orochi, which has seen the drug lines taken out at source.
He also hailed the potential impact of Operation Adder, which see's Norwich as one of five areas picked as a pilot project combining targeted policing with better treatment and recovery services for addicts.
Coronavirus: Mr Bailey said the force has dealt with it “exceptionally” adding that officers were having to to deal with their own concerns while trying to keep others safe.
He said they had done an amazing job which had been welcomed by communities across Norfolk.
On future and family: Mr Bailey said he “definitely wants to carry on working within the field of vulnerability and child protection”.
He said he was interested in doing something in academia.
But he also wanted to spend more time with his wife, two children and three grandchildren. He said: “It will be nice to have a life not dominated by my work. It means I will be able to spend time with my wife who has been the most amazing support to me.”