Ron Hogg, Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner
Ron Hogg, Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner (PCVC) for County Durham and Darlington has died peacefully at the age of 68.
Ron Hogg was born in 1951 in Bridge of Allen, Stirlingshire. He was initially brought up in Scotland, and moved to Corby, Northamptonshire, as a child. Ron never lost the Scottish accent, or the affable, good-humoured character which endeared him to many. After school, he studied Politics at the University of York between 1970 and 1973, and captained the University’s rugby first fifteen in his final year.
Ron initially trained to be a schoolteacher and taught at Kingswood Grammar School Corby, until 1978, when he decided his vocation was in policing and he became a fast-track entrant to Northumbria Police, working the East End of Newcastle until 1981 when he transferred to Northamptonshire Police. He served there until 1992, progressing to the rank of Chief Inspector. Ron then returned to Northumbria as Superintendant, during which time he worked as the Area Commander in Sunderland West. Ron also spent two years working with HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), inspecting some of the largest forces in country, including the Metropolitan Police and the West Midlands Police.
Ron liked to talk about his role at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, where he led the English police unit tackling football hooliganism in the host countries, Japan and South Korea. At the time he was the Assistant Chief Constable in Durham. The role included following the English national team, accompanied by a group of specialist police officers. Their aim was to help combat hooligan behaviour, or the "English disease" as it was commonly referred to. Ron reflected afterwards that he thought that many other fan groups were far more disruptive than the England fans.
As Assistant Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary in 1998, he led a successful reorganisation of that force. Ron also developed some great working relationships which were helpful to him when he later became PCVC. In 2003 he became Deputy Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, a position he held until retiring in 2008 after thirty years in policing.
As a schoolteacher Ron was an active member of the National Association of Schoolmasters / Union of Women Teachers union, serving as Branch President for 18 months. Upon joining the police service he ceased all political activity due to the obvious conflict of interest, but in 2012 he was invited by the Labour Party to be the candidate for election as Police and Crime Commissioner for Durham Constabulary, and went on to win the election with 52 per cent of the vote. Ron was re-elected in 2016 with 63 per cent of the popular vote – the largest proportion for any PCC in the country.
During Ron’s tenure, Durham Constabulary was rated as ‘outstanding’ four times in a row in HMIC inspections, enabling the force to claim to be the best in the country. Durham officers were known for their friendly, out-going character and many of them knew Ron well. Ron made tremendous efforts to engage with local communities, attending many agricultural shows, meetings of residents’ associations, and visiting towns and villages every week. Members of Ron’s staff often remarked how many people seemed to know and recognise him on these occasions, and he had an ability to show empathy, understanding and a commitment to address the issues that people raised with him.
Ron also became known for his support for the reform of drugs policy at national level, making many appearances in the media, arguing the case with Ministers and supporting the Chief Constable’s approach to policing of drugs locally. Durham became known as a place where the focus would be on tackling drug dealers and organised crime groups, rather than committing resource to prosecuting low-level users of cannabis. Ron’s drug manifesto, ’Towards a Safer Drugs Policy’ was published in 2017 and attracted widespread support for reform.
Earlier this year Ron was the recipient of the first international Sir Robert Peel Award for Excellence in Policing. The award was presented by the Board of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership to Ron, for his leadership in developing policies that mitigate the harms of drugs.
On re-election in 2016, Ron added the word ‘Victims’ to his job title, reflecting the importance he wished to give to support for victims of crime and anti-social behaviour. Ron worked with partner organisations to put in place a range of services, customised to the needs of specific groups.
Ron was an avid Heart of Midlothian and Newcastle United fan, attending matches when he could. He also enjoyed supporting the Scottish national rugby team at Murrayfield, returning to his beloved Scotland whenever possible.
In 2019 Ron was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and fought it with his characteristic toughness and dignity. Even faced with a fatal condition he used his final months to campaign for a change in the law so that others might have the right to die with dignity.
In December 2019 Ron was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in the Queen's New Year Honours. With special dispensation from the Queen Ron received this honour a couple of days before he passed away.
Ron was a real inspiration for Durham Constabulary and a passionate believer in the need to support victims of crime and anti-social behaviour to cope and recover from their ordeal.
Ron leaves a devoted wife, Maureen, and two adult sons.