First female chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police appointed

Sarah Crew has been confirmed as the first female chief constable of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, 27 years after she joined as a new recruit.

Nov 26, 2021
By Tony Thompson
Chief Constable Sarah Crew

Ms Crew was confirmed in post at a meeting of the Police and Crime Panel on November 25, three weeks after she was named as the police and crime commissioner’s (PCC) preferred candidate following a rigorous selection process. It follows her appointment as temporary chief constable in July.

During her policing career, has held various roles including head of intelligence, lead officer for Bristol CID and commander of South Gloucestershire policing area, before taking on the role of deputy chief constable in 2017.

Ms Crew said: “It will be the greatest honour of my life to serve the wonderfully diverse communities of Avon and Somerset as chief constable. I don’t underestimate the privilege and responsibility this role carries with it and I’m wholly committed to delivering the outstanding policing our communities want and deserve.

“Policing is at a watershed moment; there’s nothing more precious than the founding principle of policing by consent, and we must work tirelessly to earn and keep the public’s trust. As a society, we’re facing growing levels of inequality and a criminal justice process under pressure. These times call for policing to stand strong in its mission and stand firm to protect what we prize in our way of life.

“At its heart, the philosophy of policing is a bond of trust between citizens in policing and citizens in communities. Protecting and strengthening this bond of trust is my over-riding priority and I believe greater openness and accountability, and a renewed focus on culture and ethics, will be pivotal in achieving this.”

“I want courage and empathy to be at the heart of everything we do – in every interaction with a vulnerable person; at the core of every investigation and in our relentless pursuit of justice. Courage is at its most powerful when combined with empathy and true empathy comes from seeing and feeling the lived experiences of others. We need to show humility and a commitment to listen to all of our communities.”

Ms Crew is the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for rape and sexual assault and, as part of her national portfolio, has overseen the introduction of Project Bluestone in Avon and Somerset Constabulary – a pioneering evidence-based approach to transform the way police respond and investigate rape and serious sexual offences.

It’s been developed in partnership with academics and in consultation with partners across the criminal justice system, as well as victim services, and is set to inform a national change in the policing approach.

Ms Crew said: “At its core, Project Bluestone is about shifting the focus onto offenders, while at the same time improving our response to victims. It’s vital we relentlessly target, investigate and pursue those who commit the most crime, present the biggest risks and are the most corrosive influences on our communities.

“This can be done through an insight-led approach and even closer partnership working with criminal justice and third sector agencies, with a sharper focus on prevention and disruption at every stage.”

PCC Mark Shelford added: “In a world where crime is changing rapidly, police need to adapt to keep up and I know Sarah enthusiastically supports innovation and improving technology to ensure Avon and Somerset is an efficient and effective police service.

“Sarah has a proven track record of strong and successful leadership and through her NPCC role she is undertaking important work with criminal justice and partner agencies to improve conviction rates for these types of offences and give victims the support they deserve.

“It’s been a tough two years for policing due to the pandemic, a changing landscape and new demands, but I am confident that Sarah will successfully deliver for our communities at such a pivotal time for policing.

“The police officers, staff and volunteers in Avon and Somerset are dedicated and hardworking, and I believe that Sarah’s leadership will enhance their considerable efforts and skills.”

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