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Chief Inspector defends Wycombe's police chief
4:30pm Friday 13th September 2013 in News
CHIEF Inspector Colin Seaton has launched a staunch defence of Wycombe’s police chief Supt Gilbert Houalla following criticism about Operation Ribbon.
In a letter to the Free Press, he wrote: “I have been in the business of solving and reducing crime for the past 29 years and I have seen many changes in policing.
I remember my very first day at Thames Valley Police, arriving at a very military style police training school in a rural part of Wales.
An 18-year-old boy thrust into a man’s world partly because I wanted to protect life and property but mostly because my mum thought I would make a good police officer and filled in the application form for me!
Years on, I now sit at my desk having reached the rank of Chief Inspector, proud of being part of a policing team that has reduced crime for the fourth year in succession.
I have been part of many teams and worked with several police leaders during my career but it has to be said that Superintendent Houalla is certainly amongst the very best.
Let me put some context around this for you; Firstly, he led Wycombe LPA through the most difficult times of unprecedented cuts in policing expenditure but managed to increase numbers in terms of frontline policing in Wycombe District and in doing so consistently provides a high quality service to the communities that we so deeply care about.
Secondly, there have been a number of high profile incidents and operations in the district that any senior management team would have found extremely tough to manage.
Here is an example: Operation Ribbon - an operation into child sexual exploitation - Supt Houalla quite rightly insisted that we involved the community as much as we possibly could without compromising the integrity of this sensitive policing operation.
The CPS deemed that the evidence was appropriate to take to court, a trial was held and subsequently seven men were exonerated and three others partially cleared of any charges.
Despite our consistently open and honest transparency, we were still subject to criticism from some quarters which I think is highly unfair.
I hinted earlier about the reduction in crime and I am proud to say that this trend continues in relation to burglary, the strong partnership that we have with Wycombe District Council, other statutory and voluntary organisations have contributed to the ongoing reduction meaning there are fewer victims who have suffered this particularly intrusive crime.
The victims in my mind are the people that really matter as we continue to challenge offenders and protect vulnerable people.
Finally, as the evenings are beginning to get darker, please can I remind homeowners to keep their properties secure and to invest in a timer light switch so that their house isn’t left unoccupied in darkness.
Let’s keep working together to keep Wycombe the safe place that it is.”