Fully committed to serving the public in his 30 years as a police officer, chief Inspector Richard Burge was the perfect choice to become Gloucester’s first City Safe Manager.
His appointment has been announced following a stringent recruitment process that saw a wave of applicants hungry to tackle city safety.
Chief Inspector Burge, 49, has been responsible for city centre policing for the last five years and will retire at the end of the week.
After three decades serving the city, he is excited about the new role but has issued a warning to would-be troublemakers.
“Gloucester is one of the fastest growing cities in the country," he said.
“I want it widely known that if people come into the city and steal or are disorderly, violent or cause problems in shops, shopping centres, pubs, clubs and restaurants – there will be consequences,”.
“It is very likely they will be banned from entering the premises of all those businesses who are members of Gloucester City Safe and those bans will be rigorously enforced.
I am really looking forward to working with Gloucester City Safe on behalf of businesses operating in both the day and night-time economies to continue all the good work that has been going on to make the City the safest possible place in which to live, work, visit and socialise.
“I will be able to use my previous experience as a police officer and my knowledge of the city to work with businesses, the local police, local authority and other agencies.
“Together, we can help traders reduce the impact and cost of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour being committed against them and their staff, customers and communities.”
A five-man board has been established to guide a new Business Crime Reduction Partnership. Businesses across Gloucester will be encouraged to sign up, with regular updates to crime reduction schemes and a data base of known offenders.
It is the first time day and night time economies have united. A monthly membership fee will ensure the co-ordinator role is self sufficient in future, with excess funds re-invested into safety schemes.
The project has been based on a successful scheme in Brighton that saw a big reduction in city centre crime.
The new position is being funded by the police and crime commissioner, Martin Surl.
Mr Surl said: “This is potentially a key role in the development of Gloucester. “Richard’s experience makes him the ideal person to provide a link between the police, the city council, licensees, businesses who want to improve the experience of visitors to the city.”
Colleagues at Gloucestershire Constabulary paid tribute to his work during a 30 year career.
Chief Superintendent Nigel Avron said: “I have worked with Richard for many years and I know him to be somebody who is totally committed to public service.
“His experience of working in and enthusiasm for Gloucester is without question.
“Richard will be greatly missed by the Constabulary, but I am extremely pleased that he will be remaining in a community safety role where he will prove to be a fine ambassador.”
Deputy leader of the city council, Jennie Dallimore, also worked with Richard on the NightSafe group.
She is one of five board members of the new city crime reduction partnership, the social enterprise established to work with him.
She said: “There was a very high standard of applicant for the role and I am delighted at the level of interest in the position.
“Richard was an outstanding candidate who will fully embrace the role and hit the ground running using his vast experience and knowledge of the city.
“This role is crucial to the implementation of the Yellow Card Scheme and our future aspirations for a safer and more vibrant evening economy. I am very excited to be a part of the board and to have played a role in helping to bring this project to life.”