These two very important items sat in front of my cap represent where I’m from and where I am; the Gwendraeth Valley and Teesside.
From two different places they are inextricably linked; a source of fuel used to make the steel – materials that Teesside used to build the modern world.
The lump of anthracite coal is from the mine where my grandfather worked and acts as a reminder of where I’m from and who helped me along the way. The lump of iron is from the belly of the blast-furnace in Redcar and serves as a daily reminder of the heritage of the people we serve here at Cleveland. This iron (donated by Mayor Ben Houchen) will be used to form a new award made for us here on Teesside by a family owned company that’s been operating for generations – locally made to the highest standard.
Using material such as this to mount in a rare award for outstanding work reminds us of our heritage and the communities we represent. We are proud Teessiders and linking the work we do to the communities we serve is important. Our shared history binds us as a group even when there are disagreements about how to commemorate our past.
Artefacts like the coal and iron matter; not simply as historical curiosities in museums but as useful metaphors for the way we structure and work together in large organisations such as a police service.
When miners hit their weekly tonnage target of coal extracted, a bonus would be shared – not just by the miners but by the whole workforce including employees that worked in the canteen to feed those that went to those dark and dangerous places to retrieve the coal. The whole workforce was joined in a common goal that was both clear and measurable and each had their part to play.
The police service is the same; it is not about who prevented the crime or who made the arrest; it’s about the fact a crime was prevented, or an arrest was made. This means that the needs of the team always come first, and no single member of the team is more important than any other regardless of rank or grade. This can sometimes mean a member of a team didn’t get what they wanted or thought they deserved and whilst I’ll do all I can to eradicate any injustice, we will always put the needs of the whole team first. The best teams always do that and I’m impressed on daily basis by the ability of staff at Cleveland Police to put the needs of the team ahead of their own.
It’s how you build a great team, a great organisation and a great community.