End of an era as Alan steps down

Colleagues say farewell to Alan Mitchell.
Colleagues say farewell to Alan Mitchell.
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ALAN Mitchell is calling it a day after almost 50 years of helping keep Sunderland safe.

The Beatles were at number one with Hard Day’s Night when Alan joined the force as a police cadet in 1964.

Now he is looking forward to a long and happy retirement from the role as Sunderland City Council’s community safety co-ordinator which earned him an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List.

Wife Gillian is also retiring this year as headteacher of New Silksworth Infant School.

Chairman of the Safer Sunderland Partnership Coun Tom Foster said: “Alan has been involved in some ground-breaking work during his career, and his diplomatic, tactful and thoughtful approach has helped him to achieve notable success in bringing people and organisations together to tackle problems from youth disorder to racism.

“The Community Safety Team actually grew up with and around Alan, and the problem-solving process which he helped to establish involving all our partners in first identifying and then addressing issues around antisocial and unlawful behaviour, has become a model other cities have begun to adopt.

“He was our first police liaison officer and has been working to help people in our city for 47 years, first through the police and then through the city council.

“We will all miss Alan, but typically of the man, he has already helped to ensure all the good work he began will continue, by working to put all the necessary structures in place.”

As the city council’s community safety co-ordinator, Alan has been instrumental in helping to create a number of key community safety developments through the Safer Sunderland Partnership such as:

l Improving use of CCTV by combining resources and establishing a central control centre to share pictures, footage and intelligence with the police.

l Establishing working groups with police, housing agencies and other agencies to help identify residents’ problems and find the best ways to tackle them.

l The Safer Homes Initiative, backed by the Home Office, to provide victims of burglary with added home security, support and re-assurance to help them feel safe in their homes again.

“It’s amazing to think that I end my career here at the civic centre only two hundred yards away from where I began it, when I first stepped off the bus from Seaham to begin work as a police cadet,” Alan said.

“While some things may have changed in the way we work, especially with the use of technology, whereas officers on the beat didn’t even have police radios when I started, but the aim of helping people remains the same.

“I’m proud that the partnership working I helped to introduce in our city continues to grow and grow, and that the different community safety agencies and organisations we’ve brought together are having such a positive affect on people’s lives.

“Everyone works together and without the support of the community we couldn’t have achieved what we have in terms of making Sunderland one of the safest cities to live in the country.”