Meet Craig Guildford, Nottinghamshire’s new police chief

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Although new to Nottinghamshire, Craig Guildford is singing it’s praises.

The new Chief Constable for the county moved here just before Christmas, with his wife, three children and in tow.

The 43-year-old has made it clear that he is here for the long haul.

Speaking at the Police Headquarters, at Sherwood Lodge in Arnold, on February 2 - his second day working for the police force - he says: I’m really proud to be Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire and I think it’s a huge privilege and responsibilty.

“And personally, it’s a good area to live and a good area to visit.

“Very much from my perspective, I’m married with three children and a dog and I moved onto the patch on the 22nd of December, just made it before Christmas, and I’m certainly an individual that’s in it for the long run.”

Mr Guildford’s policing career began at Cheshire Constabulary in 1994, he volunteered as a Special Constable while completing a geography degree at the University of Derby.

He worked in several different departments, both as a uniformed and plain clothes officer, and was also seconded to the National Crime Squad in 2000.

On his return from the National Crime Squad he progressed through the ranks in Cheshire Constabulary before being appointed as Assistant Chief Constable, Specialist Operations with West Yorkshire Police in October 2012.

Mr Guildford’s top priorities include focusing on neighbourhood policing where he says his background working in rural areas will come into play.

He says: “I’ve worked in rural areas so I am acutely aware of the challenges.

“I very much want to be in communities and part of communities but at the same time I would like to be paying less on my rateable value and not paying for an empty, large police station in certain places when I can have a smaller one in the same place or even share building to the greater good so that I can try wherever possible to protect neighbourhood policing.”

When asked his thoughts on private policing, after plans to hire security firms were discussed in both Selston and Huthwaite over concerns that there were not enough police deployed in the rural districts.

Mr Guildford says while he wasn’t opposed to the idea, he would prefer a PCSO to be used.

He says: “I’ve worked in places where PSCOS have been jointly paid for by school and hospitals and there was a fear that these would be taken away by the police commander. But I have never done that.

“Personally I would like the idea of a Special Constable much more or volunteers but I’m happy hear opinions or discuss options.”

He also promises the force will become an “employer of choice” for the area.

He says: “The force recently launched a recruitment drive for PCSOs, with a closing date of February 10, after a similar drive in January saw 660 people apply to become a police constable.

Mr Guildford says: “I want to make sure that we are developing our staff despite times of austerity and also that we are recruiting people from the local area.”

And these ‘times of austerity’ bring their own challenges.

Since 2010-11 funding Nottinghamshire has seen its funding reduced by over £42m and in December 2014 it was confirmed that the next year’s policing grant would be cut by a further 5.1 per cent.

Last year Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found £9.4m had been used from the force’s reserves after it failed to spot a “significant hole in its budget due to inadequate financial controls”.

This includes failing to account for £3.7m of IT work in its annual budget and a £3.5m overspend.

The budget errors led to frontline staff being cut from the police force, a report from the HMIC found.

However, former Chief Constable Sue Fish said the report was “absolutely misleading” and challenged the findings.

But the new chief seems to be optimistic despite facing this challenge.

Mr Guildford says:“It would be nice to have more funding, but we are in a situation where across the public sector we are dealing with reductions as best we can.

“Austerity has emphasised that we need to be more creative and less risk adverse as an organisation.”

He says that by looking at how the police can work with local councils, community groups and other orgainisations to provide the best service possible while working together and sharing assets - it can ultimately save money.

This has already happened in Ashfield - last month a new Integrated Services Hub opened at the Council Office in Kirkby, which brings police and council officers together in shared office accommodation.

The Hub includes a police counter for public enquiries and initially involves police, council and community safety team staff. It is hoped that other partners will move in over time to make the team even stronger.

For Mr Guildford, the focus remains on bringing communities together.

He says: “I am committed to making people feel safe across the country regardless of where they live, or what there postcode is.”

Which can only be a good thing now he shares that postcode.”