Like so many of you, I reacted with horror as the events in Reading unfolded over the weekend.

My role as Chief Constable means I am fully aware of the potential risks of terrorist attacks and I am involved in regular training exercises on how a police force would respond to an incident like the one on Saturday night.

However, no matter how many discussions and scenarios you sit through, nothing can prepare you for the reality of something like that.

Firstly, I want to express my condolences to the families and friends of all those caught up in Saturday’s incident – not only those who sadly lost their lives, but all those who have been left injured and affected by what happened.

I also want to pay tribute to all the emergency services who responded – particularly the police officers who were first to arrive and had to deal with a traumatic and complex scene.

News reports suggest that it was an unarmed police officer who apprehended the suspect, while other police officers valiantly tried to save lives by administering first aid to the victims.

The last few weeks and months have been tough for policing.

We have faced a barrage of questioning and criticism on a range of topics – from how we have policed during the COVID19 pandemic to what we need to do to address how we engage with our BAME communities.

Of course, some of this has been justified and necessary.

We cannot hide away from difficult and uncomfortable questions and we must be held accountable by the public.

However, Saturday’s incident brought into sharp focus the risks and dangers that modern-day policing can bring.

The police officers and staff who responded to those 999 calls found themselves thrown into a potentially dangerous situation, where they had to put the needs of the wider public ahead of any concerns they may have had for their own safety.

I know this phrase gets used a lot, but it is true – they were the ones running towards danger while others were rightly fleeing for their lives.

And I know that officers and staff across Wiltshire Police will have watched the events at the weekend knowing that they could very well be in that position one day.

Hopefully they won’t find themselves responding to an incident of that scale and tragedy.

But every day of policing, in every part of the country, brings danger and risk of some kind, and we take on this job accepting that we must put others ahead of ourselves.