I haven't updated my blog for some months. This is sadly a reflection of recent events and pressures on the Police Service which have required a more formal response from the Chief Constable, and other senior colleagues, than that which a blog provides.
Over the past year the demands placed on your Police Service have been unprecedented. The gun attacks in recent days are just two examples of where individuals have tried to murder police officers who have been out delivering a local policing service in communities. Be assured that these attacks and the others before them will not deter us from providing the policing service that the vast majority of people have asked for and desire. Indeed he officers concerned were back on duty the next day, and I pay tribute to their enormous courage. The attacks were clearly directed towards the police, but they showed blatant and callous disregard for the community and could have easily resulted in tragedy in terms of both police and civilian casualties. Whilst these recent attacks are fresh in everyone's minds, again I appeal to anyone who knows anything about these and indeed previous attacks to come forward and assist us to ensure those responsible are brought to justice.
We have also welcomed the further talks being chaired by Dr Richard Haass. We acknowledge that the Haass talks focus on difficult and sensitive areas but these talks present a significant opportunity which we all have a responsibility to grasp. From a policing perspective we know only too well about the impact of tensions on the issues of the past, flags and parades. Every day we dedicate huge resources to these unresolved matters, resources which we would much prefer to focus on preventing serious harm to individuals across all communities. I suspect that members of the public would much rather their local Neighbourhood Police Officer for example was visible in his or her local community than having to provide additional patrols to thwart terrorist attacks or to police interfaces to keep communities apart.
I had the opportunity to patrol in Belfast City Centre recently and it was reassuring to see that despite the attempted car bomb people were not going to be deterred from heading out to undertake their Christmas shopping. And despite the concerns around the recent flag protest anniversary events, which mostly passed off peacefully, shoppers were still out and about in the City Centre. The Closing of the Gates Parade in Derry also passed off largely without incident and this is a credit to everyone involved.
Let me reassure you that we will do everything possible to keep you safe and make you feel safe this Christmas. Whether you are out and about in your local City or town shopping, driving on the roads or out socialising we will work to ensure that all those who are going about their daily routine lawfully are protected.
In return we also ask you for your support. Protect your home by keeping it secure and use simple and sensible crime prevention measures to protect your property and purchases. If you are out, remember do not drink and drive, and do not leave items visible in your vehicle. If you out socialising please make sure that you do not consume too much alcohol and plan in advance how you are going to get home safely.
I wish you all a safe and peaceful Christmas season.