Cardiff’s new chief superintendent has said her officers are confident they can handle the pressure of both Cardiff City and Swansea City playing in the Premier League.
As the Bluebirds and Swans prepare for the South Wales derby in Cardiff in November, Belinda Davies said football fans have nothing to worry about.
Ms Davies, who took over from the city’s previous chief superintendent Alun Thomas two months ago, brushed off any suggestion of policing problems caused by Cardiff City’s promotion, saying, “we’ll manage”.
In one of her first interviews since becoming the capital’s first female top cop, she said: “I would say to fans – come and enjoy the football, don’t worry about the policing of the event.”
Police in Cardiff deal with more than 400 events every year, ranging from small protests outside the Senedd to 250,000 rugby fans in the city for a Six Nations final – and Ms Davies said each brings its own set of challenges.
But the self-confessed “proud Valleys girl” who has risen through the ranks said: “For us, it is about keeping Cardiff safe so people are happy to live here and law-abiding citizens are looked after.
“Crime is continuing to drop, we are managing anti-social behaviour better and, overwhelmingly, the public is happy with our service.”
With the addition of PCSOs, mobile police stations and the force’s Our Bobby website – on which members of the public can look up details of their neighbourhood officers – Ms Davies said the force is “more accessible today than we have ever been”.
“That idea of Dixon of Dock Green – a bobby standing on the street corner – that’s still there,” she said.
“I see us as part of the community, I don’t see us as standing alone. We may wear a uniform, we may stand out, but the majority of our staff live in Cardiff – we really are part of the community.”
Since starting her job Ms Davies has continued to push for her officers to be continually in touch with the public and “partners” – like health boards, councils, voluntary organisations and other emergency services.
And in the current financial climate, in which South Wales Police is progressing in its efforts to find savings of £47m by 2015, she said a partnership approach is even more important.
“I think the fact that it’s a capital city is challenging – in any event it brings with it its own challenges – but the partnership approach in Cardiff is unique,” she said.
“The challenges are jointly met and jointly dealt with and if you left out the role the city’s communities themselves play in that, that would be remiss.”
Starting her career in Bargoed and Caerphilly, Ms Davies chose to stay on with South Wales Police when those areas went over to Gwent Police, spending time in Merthyr and in police headquarters at Bridgend before heading back to the Valleys as a chief inspector.
Two years ago she started work in Cardiff – taking a leading role last year when Matthew Tvrdon went on his hit-and-run rampage in Ely and Leckwith.
She cites the emergency response to that day of horrors as a prime example of how well Cardiff’s council officers, police, health staff and community leaders work together.
“It’s fair to say we have got a fantastic relationship with communities in Cardiff,” she said.
“Because we work so closely with communities, when such a tragic event occurs that is when it all comes to the forefront; we saw everybody pulling together to deal with that horrendous situation.”
Her new job as Cardiff’s chief superintendent is a “huge challenge”, but Ms Davies said she now has a “good feel for the city” after working here for two years.
She said she now intends to build on the work of her predecessor by continuing to work more closely with other organisations.
Such work has already led to a drop in violent crime and anti-social behaviour related to what she calls the city’s “night time economy” – the thousands of revellers who come into the city at night to enjoy its bars and restaurants.
Ms Davies said she will continue to review the force’s processes to ensure it is meeting the needs of the community.