One of my first mayoral duties has been to present divisional commendation awards to Sussex Police officers and staff based in Brighton and Hove.
It was a privilege to recognise their hard work and application in front their colleagues, families and friends.
I have great respect for the police and their ability to deal with the not inconsiderable challenges that they encounter in a rapidly changing world.
The face of crime has changed greatly since the beginning of the 21st century with the extraordinary rise in online fraud and the spread of illegal drugs across the country as a whole, fuelled by “county lines”.
There is also more knife crime and an increasing number of people with mental health issues that the police have to deal with, mainly as a result of a lack of mental health services.
As a member of the East Sussex police panel for three years, I developed a healthy respect for the professional but also very human way in which the police dealt with the problems that faced them.
I came to understand that one of the greatest challenges facing our police was a lack of officers to do the work that was needed in our society and also carry out the considerable amount of administrative work that was required of them.
I am aware that more officers are being recruited and agree that getting to full strength for our police force can’t happen fast enough.
Our police should be proud of themselves that, despite often fierce criticism in the media and elsewhere, they continue to do a difficult, demanding and often frustrating job.
From my position as a ward councillor who has dealt with residents on a daily basis for some years now, I can assure them that they are regarded as vitally important to the communities that they serve and that their impact is truly positive.
People know that our police are committed to keeping them safe in what can often appear to be a dangerous world.
I’ve heard many a tale of how kind and supportive the police have been when dealing with street robberies of elderly people and of the increasing support, sensitivity and professionalism that is often exhibited in complex cases of domestic violence.
I’ve also heard of young people being grateful for the presence of the police in the night-time economy when arguments get out of hand and turn to violence or when young people are separated from their friends.
Our police are the rock that society beats against, secure in the knowledge that they will always be there to protect us all.
It was my privilege to be able to say: “Please carry on with your much-valued work – and a big thank you to the friends and family who provide much-needed support to you.”
Councillor Jackie O’Quinn is the mayor of Brighton and Hove.