Northumbria’s Chief Constable, Sue Sim,has announced her retirement after 30 years of service.
Sue joined Merseyside Police in 1985 as agraduate entrant, progressing through the ranks in both uniform and CIDroles.
She came to Northumbria in 2004 as an AssistantChief Constable and was promoted to Deputy Chief Constable in 2008. Traditionally,a senior officer can only hold two chief officer posts in one force. However,the Police Authority were so determined to keep Sue in the force that theytook the unprecedented step to ask the Home Secretary for special permissionto allow Sue to apply for the position of Chief.
When she was appointed in 2011 she was thefirst woman to lead a Metropolitan force.
Sue is known for her commitment to neighbourhoodpolicing and it has been the cornerstone of how Northumbria has deliveredits service to the public over the last few years. That approach has seenimmense success with the force the best in the country for victim satisfactionand one of the few major metropolitan areas that did not experience publicorder difficulties in the summer of 2011.
She was also fortunate to lead the Associationof Chief Police Officers’ public order portfolio for a number of years,where she provided strategic advice at a national level.
Sue was honoured with the Queen’s PoliceMedal in 2009 andbecame Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear in 2014.
Sue and her family are settled in the regionthat they now call home.
“I have always been warmly welcomed by thepublic here,” she explained. “They are incredibly supportive of theirlocal police and we could not achieve the success we do without them.”
This was particularly evident during thesearch for Raoul Moat following the murder of Christopher Brown and shootingof one of her own officers, PC David Rathband.
“That was one of the most challenging timesof my career and the largest manhunt the country has seen for 44 years.I spent my time out and about reassuring the public and responding to theirquestions. Despite their concerns they never waned in their support forus and I am immensely proud of my officers and staff who went about theirroles fully aware of the threats against them, but determined to supportthe public. That is British policing at its best, working in partnershipwith those we serve, and is why I am still so passionate about what wedo.”
More recently, Sue has had to manage a reductionof 37% from Northumbria’s budget since 2010 to the end of the ComprehensiveSpending Review period – amounting to £117million. She has remaineddetermined to retain visible policing in communities and to minimise thenumber of compulsory redundancies for police staff.
She said: “We have made savings whereverwe can, closed outdated buildings and relocated our teams in the heartof our communities, as well as reducing to three Area Commands. I knowthis has meant some unpopular decisions but that is what leadership isabout and I have never shirked away from those decisions. I have alwayssaid we will deliver our service to the public and maintain our high standards.However, I could not have achieved this without the commitment and supportof my officers and staff. They have been tremendous and I am extremelygrateful to them.”
She acknowledges there have been other difficultdecisions in recent times. “One was the approach by a crime superintendentabout an intelligence led operation that might never realise any chargesor convictions. I took the step of authorising the operation and have providedcontinued support for it. That was the start of what is now known as OperationSanctuary.
“This demonstrates us at our best, uniformand investigative colleagues working side by side to address a significantissue that impacts on all our communities.
“Another was the HMIC report into the “nocriming” of some rape investigations. I launched a far reaching operationas it was important to reassure the public that they could have confidenceto report such crime to us.
“These decisions were absolutely the rightthings to do for the public and victims,” she added. “My motivation hasalways been, and remains, serving the public and keeping victims at theheart of what we do.”
Another highlight has been Operation Dragoon,Northumbria’s far reaching road safety programme which Sue has personallyled. “We have looked at all aspects of road safety and, in particular,raising awareness of young people who are new to driving,” she explained.
“I have been honoured to work with familieswho have lost loved ones on the roads and they have helped us get the messageout about the impact that dangerous driving can have on people’s lives.I am indebted to them for their bravery and selflessness and want to thankthem for all their support.”
Sue also acknowledged the part volunteersplay in policing. “I have always been committed to improving the livesof young people and am extremely proud to have introduced the cadet scheme,allowing young people to learn life skills and help their community. Theyjoin Special Constables who give their time freely and other volunteerswho help us on a daily basis.”
Sue explained her decision to retire nowand said; “After careful consideration I have decided to retire when Ireach my 30 years service on 3rd June. My family have made many sacrificesto enable me to have such a fantastic career and it is now time to spendmore time with them. I am obviously sad to leave but it is the right timeand I am confident I have left a legacy of high performance that will continue.
“I have been extremely fortunate to havehad a marvellous career and I am as committed to serving the public asI was when I first joined Merseyside Police in 1985.
“I want to give my sincere thanks to everyonewho has given me their support throughout this incredible journey. In particular,the public, the former Police Authority who trusted me to lead this excellentforce and supported me. I also want to thank the Police and Crime Commissionerwho has worked with me to improve the lives of our communities and victimsof crime. I am also extremely grateful to our local authorities, MPs, councillorsand the many formal and voluntary partner agencies that I have worked with.
“Most of all I want to thank my officers,staff, special constables and volunteers. They are a credit to Northumbriaand I am confident will continue to provide our communities with the verybest service they can.”