At this time, many of us reflect and think back on the year gone by and what has happened in its course.
Just in the UK we have had a General Election resulting in a government with no working majority, a situation we have not experienced for more than 40 years.
We have seen the appalling and senseless terrorist attacks; and the dreadful horror of the Grenfell Tower fire.
Many more lives will have been changed by smaller, but no less significant, incidents.
The demands and pressures on policing are ongoing, and the amazing people who serve just keep on responding.
And countless incidents and events also have taken place around the world, leaving families devastated and countries changed.
So at Christmas, I hope everyone has the chance to pause, for at least a little. Like other religious celebrations, these are times to come together with people we love.
Over Christmas, there will still be officers and staff coming on duty, answering calls for service and bringing light and hope into the lives of people who are facing a crisis and calling emergency services for help.
There will also be those quiet acts of kindness by officers; dropping by an elderly man who is lonely on Christmas Day, or giving a homeless person a cup of tea and a bite to eat.
These are acts that do not seek to be acknowledged, that are not a performance measure, but are simply the manifestation of why we are in the job – to help others, however we can.
I also reflect on the fact that as well as coming together with our families and friends, we come together with our colleagues. I am sure be there will many teams working Christmas who will celebrate together, if time allows, supporting each other and reinforcing their team spirit.
Many of my colleagues in our membership will be carrying out on-call duties, a voluntary but utterly essential role. Their day will doubtless feature that phone call, asking them to come in and do what senior operational leaders are expected to do – a call none of us ever want, but especially at Christmas.
I can remember being called out Christmas Day morning and driving through empty streets to the station, hearing a greeting of “Morning Boss, Happy Christmas” and then getting on with it. That is what we do – protecting the public and keeping people safe at all times.
So to those teams working across the country and my colleagues on call: thank you. I wish you and the whole service a very happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year.
Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales