This has been a rollercoaster week.  Last Thursday I was delighted to be appointed Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice by the Prime Minister.  And I went straight to work - ten minutes after my appointment I was in the Home Office with David Cameron as he set out the coalition Government's priorities.

This is a big new role, since as well as having responsibility for the police I will also be working on criminal justice reform at the Ministry of Justice.  And having been both Shadow Police Minister and Shadow Justice Secretary, I'm excited about the challenge ahead. 

Three years ago I published Policing for the People which set out our plans for the police, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to implement these reforms.  We want to return responsibility to police officers, and introduce directly elected individuals who will hold forces to account.

We're determined to cut through bureaucracy and red tape so that we unchain officers from their desks and allow them to be on the streets where people want to see them.

At the start of the week I went to the Police Federation conference in Bournemouth and talked to their members about the problems they face.  I also went out with officers in the town to discuss how they deal with problems caused by late night drinking.

We all know about the huge fiscal deficit and the pressures it will bring.  Government will have to tighten its belt, but I'm determined that our priority will be to tackle wasteful spending, drive efficiencies, and do all that we can to protect front-line services.

I've seen how successful partnership working between the Sussex police and Horsham District Council helped to tackle the problem of antisocial behaviour in Storrington.  I know from meeting our local police how determined they are to deliver for the public if we give them the means to do the job.  I hugely value what police officers do to keep our communities safe, and I'm honoured to be working with them.

Christopher N Howarth