The incoming chief of Crawley police has vowed to put victims first and continue the work of predecessor Chief Inspector Steve Curry.
CI Justina Beeken, who takes over as divisional commander this week, paid tribute to Mr Curry’s four years in charge.
She said: “I’m really excited about being given this opportunity. I’ll be looking to carry on Steve’s work, building partnerships and making Crawley a safer place.
“It’s not just about being safe it’s about feeling safe as well. Crawley is a diverse community and everyone has different issues. It’s about learning everyone’s needs and going out there and meeting people.”
An officer for 15 years, Ms Beeken joined as a special constable before becoming a full constable in Hove.
She has some prior knowledge of Crawley having worked here as a custody Inspector in 2005-06. Last year she was the lead on the Olympics policing operation for Sussex Police.
It was while working as a liaison officer for the family of murder victim Jane Longhurst, killed by Graham Coutts in Brighton, that she gained an invaluable insight into victim’s of crime. Ms Beeken was given a special commendation by Judge Richard Brown for comforting the family through harrowing tesimony.
She said: “When people are going through the most stressful time of their lives it’s really important they get the right support.”
This victim-led philosophy has informed her subsequent approach to policing.
She said: “We often come into people’s lives at time of great stress and it’s getting the balance right between carrying out the needs of an investigation and being empathetic and understanding. It’s not one-size-fits all, everyone is different.”
She is determined not to be rushed into trying to solve everything in one go.
“I’ve got to digest things and get an understanding of the key issues and tackle them one at a time. I can’t go blundering in thinking I’m going to solve things by Christmas because it’s not realistic. Everyone wants to do a good job but you have to moderate that and set realistic goals.”
On key issues such as burglary Ms Beeken said it would always be her priority to keep it low. Meanwhile she is keen to stamp out anti-social behaviour but insists it can ony be solved by partnerships with others.
She is glad to have a head-start with good contacts across local authories and agencies. She added: “It really helps when you know people already.”