New man at the helm of Harrogate district’s policing

NADV 12092526AM Supt. Aubrey Smith. Picture : Adrian Murray. (12092526AM)
NADV 12092526AM Supt. Aubrey Smith. Picture : Adrian Murray. (12092526AM)

“Targeting offenders. Supporting victims. Making sure that when people need us, we are there.”

That is the goal of the new man at the helm of Harrogate’s policing, Aubrey Smith, who is returning to the town where he first served as a PC.

Now Supt Smith, in his new role as Safer Neighbourhood Commander, is effectively in charge of policing in Harrogate.

And, speaking to this newspaper this week, he has promised to put the community first.

“I always ask myself how I would want my family to be treated if they were victims of crime,” he said.

“I care about this place. I live here. My daughter goes to school here. Everything that happens in Harrogate impacts on me.

“And I genuinely do believe that good policing makes a difference.”

An “adopted Yorkshireman”, Supt Smith moved from Warwickshire at the age of 11. He is still a fan of Coventry City.

He began his career as a PC in Thirsk in 1985, working in Skipton before he moved to Harrogate and making it his home. In the years since he has served as a firearms officer, a custody sergeant, in police training and heading up county-wide operations.

But his first job on a task force, as a PC in Harrogate, has always been his favourite.

“I’m chuffed to bits to be back here,” he said. “To be honest, it’s the icing on the cake.”

Supt Smith says he is a traditional policeman: “It may be the predictable answer, but I came into this because I wanted to be able to make a difference. I wanted to help people.

“I genuinely believe it’s a vocation, not just a job.”

With the approach of autumn, and with it dark nights, bonfire night and mischief night, Supt Smith says the force’s priorities are on anti-social behaviour and burglaries.

And, says Supt Smith, while there are tough times ahead, Harrogate has a solid ground for good policing.

“With the economic climate, the challenge to keep it that way is going to get harder and harder,” he said.

“However, I don’t believe in cutting front line policing.

“As the numbers do decline, we’ve got to look at different ways of operating. I don’t want to get into a blame culture. Tell me what we have got, and we will do the best we can.”

Supt Smith said he believes there is more to policing than catching criminals: “On my first day on the beat, my chief constable said to me that I would feel as if everyone was looking at me. ‘You’re right,’ he said. ‘They are’.

“But so they should be. That’s what the uniform is about.”

Supt Aubrey Smith, now 48, began his career as a PC in Thirsk, working in Skipton then Harrogate where he moved to a task force and then CID. He spent time training officers at force headquarters before returning to Harrogate as a community Sergeant in Starbeck, where he was commended for his work with youngsters in the community. He did a stint as custody sergeant, soon becoming inspector. He has been district commander in Richmond, a chief inspector in Harrogate, and worked for the Admin of Justice for York with force-wide responsibility for custody and handling of prisoners. For the past four years he was head of specialist operations for the force, over firearms support unit, dog unit, roads policing, neighbourhood support teams, operations and planning and special branch. One of his greatest achievements was as security coordinator for the Olympic Torch as it made its way through the county this summer. Follow him on Twitter @SuptAubreySmith.