Public image of North Yorkshire may be 'Heartbeat' but police face modern threats, says new chief constable

NYP chief constable Lisa Winward.
NYP chief constable Lisa Winward.

The new chief constable of North Yorkshire Police has suggested that despite the county's public image evoking the nostalgic television show Heartbeat, the force has to deal with modern threats - citing counter terrorism, online fraud, child sexual abuse, and organised crime gangs targeting rural communities as day-to-day challenges.

After having her role confirmed on Wednesday, Lisa Winward has written a blog post about the force's priorities.

She said: "There is no doubt that these are challenging times for policing. The demands on the police service are changing – you only have to glance at the news headlines to see that.

"Counter terrorism, online fraud, child sexual abuse, and organised crime gangs using “county lines” to distribute drugs in rural communities – these are just some of the challenges that are now part of the day-to-day work of North Yorkshire Police. And it is not just restricted to these emerging areas.

"We’re also facing challenges in the sheer volume of calls to the police. This summer – like other Forces across the country – we had a huge uplift in the number of calls to our Force Control Room.

"Each year the numbers grow and grow, and it’s to the great credit of our staff and officers that they deal with these pressures and stay dedicated to serving the public, no matter how difficult the circumstances."

Chief Con Winward first joined North Yorkshire Police 25 years ago as a Special Constable, and "discovered that I had a real passion for policing and was determined from that point forwards that I wanted to join the police service as a full-time officer".

Having joined Humberside Police in 1994, she said that she now feels "incredibly privileged to be given the chance to serve the public and my colleagues in this fantastic county".

But she has instigated a programme of changes to bring about "slick processes", titled Transform 2020.

Outlining her plans, she reveals four priorities: keep the most vulnerable people in our society safe; collaboration; "reinforcing the frontline" through the Police and Crime Plan; and neighbourhood policing.

She said: " The public image may be a little bit “Heartbeat”, but in reality we’re a modern police service working on 21st century issues, and we need slick processes and systems to help us to do that job."