PEOPLE in Oxfordshire should judge the police on their day-to-day activities, rather than their failings during the Operation Bullfinch scandal, the new police chief said.

Francis Habgood took over as chief constable on Wednesday after Sara Thornton took on the new role of chairwoman of the National Police Chiefs Council.

He said the public had confidence in Thames Valley Police, despite the fact the force was heavily criticised in the Serious Case Review published last month.

Girls were subjected to years of sexual abuse by a grooming gang and seven men were jailed in 2013 for a total of 95 years for raping, grooming and prostituting the girls between 2005 and 2011.


The review said there were 1,561 recorded police contacts with the girls, but just 26 offences recorded.

But Mr Habgood said that he was determined to put the Bullfinch Serious Case Review behind him in his role.

He said: “We have acknowledged there were mistakes and we are shamed by the service that was provided all those years ago.

“But the Serious Case Review also acknowledges several improvements by the police since 2011.

“That will go a long way to building that confidence. We have put those mistakes right.”

Mr Habgood, from Buckinghamshire, has worked for TVP for 11 years and has been a police officer for 28 years.

While his predecessor Ms Thornton is getting a package of £252,000 at her new job, the dad of two will have a salary of £163,512.

Ahead of the year’s official crime statistics, being released later this month, Mr Habgood said: “If you look at confidence and satisfaction levels they are all at high levels.

“When people call the police and interact with us and see us out and about on a day-to-day basis or other things, they are happy with that.”

The former deputy chief constable said that he wanted to “modernise” the force, including letting people contact the police online.

He said: “People are used to using their smartphones to do other things – banking, insurance, and so on – why not the police?

“Not everything has to be done over the phone or face-to-face.

“Arranging to meet an officer or your local neighbourhood team through an online portal would make a lot more sense and be much more efficient than by doing it over the phone.

“We can’t afford to stand still, we need to adapt to the changing demands on policing.”

He said the public will start to see more online services in the next 18 months and that there would be more technology projects for the force over the next three years.

In the last four years TVP has had to cut more than £58m.

Mr Habgood said: “Until after the General Election we don’t know, but there will be cuts.

I will do everything I can to use resources for front-line services.”