My career has been spent serving and protecting the public. I have worked for the Police, the Fire & Rescue Service and Local Authorities across our region, leading partnerships to tackle crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour.
I know this is not something politicians usually do, but I wouldn’t ask you to put your faith in me without knowing what qualifies me for this really important role. So here’s a brief CV:
In my early career I spent 7 years in Germany where I worked for a german/anglo business and HM Forces. Living with and working for the armed forces gave me a valuable insight into the complexities of uniformed service and culture and the debt we owe soldiers fighting for and protecting our country and our dependent territories.
On returning to the UK I secured employment with Durham Constabulary where I worked in the divisional headquarters. This experience provided me with a deep understanding of the culture of the organisation and appreciation of policing in general.
I then moved into Local Government and became a full-time Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator, where I worked closely with the community, engaging and responding to a diverse range of residents’ concerns and priorities to prevent and deter crime and finding ways to make their streets safe. I went on to establish the first Junior Neighbourhood Watch scheme in the Country having first secured sponsorship from Marks and Spencer.
I went on to manage a range of community safety services including CCTV control room, Neighbourhood Watch, citizenship programme, anti-social behaviour team, abandoned vehicles and the first ever 24 hours 365 days a year warden patrolling service called the Community Force.
The Community Force attracted a lot of attention and scrutiny and I hosted many visitors including the Home Office, Police Federation, Superintendents Association and numerous police forces throughout the country as well as being subjected to intense media attention.
Following one of those visits by the Metropolitan Police they made representations to the then Labour Government who later introduced Street Wardens and Police Community Support Officers across the country.
Working in perhaps one of the most challenging areas in the North East, Middlesbrough, I was responsible for leading multi-agency partnerships to tackle high crime, drug and alcohol misuse, hate crime, domestic abuse and anti-social behaviour. I bid for and secured funding from ERDF, ESF, NRF and SRB programmes to introduce the first street warden scheme in Middlesbrough. This was the largest scheme of its kind in the country at the time employing over 70 wardens.
I left Middlesbrough to join County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service as an Area Manger. This was another challenging role and one I relished, becoming one of only a handful of female senior fire and rescue service managers in the country I enjoyed playing a significant part in the national cultural and organisational change programme.
I was appointed to the Cabinet of the largest local authority in the North East (Durham County Council) in 2015, where I led the Safer and Stronger Communities Agenda, chaired the Police and Crime Panel, Drug and Harm Reduction Group, Domestic and Sexual Violence Group and the Safe Durham Partnership.
I played a pivotal role in championing crime reduction and disorder by holding the Police and Crime Commissioner and relevant agencies to account for the delivery of the safer communities’ agenda, ensuring they were meeting victims needs and providing efficient and effective services.
I regularly visited community safety projects responsible for protecting and safeguarding victims to enhance my understanding of issues affecting them and to gain a greater knowledge of the range of services being provided. Following these familiarisation visits I was able to identify what improvements could be made to enhance service delivery.
It was from such a visit I established the need to support children who had witnessed domestic violence and persuaded elected members to allocate funding to pilot a scheme called Encompass. This scheme alerts schools if any of their pupils witness a domestic violence incident. Encompass ensures teaching staff are made aware of their potential trauma so they can offer relevant care and support.