The board is responsible for the overall governance of Victims First Northumbria and takes care of our policy, strategy, direction and forward planning. Our Trustees are all volunteers with a broad range of skills, experience and personal qualities.
Police & Crime Commissioner Vera Baird QC
In 2012, Vera was elected as Northumbria’s first Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), where she works to ensure that Northumbria Police deliver the priorities set for them in her Police and Crime Plan. Prior to this role Vera was a Labour MP and was the Lead Minister with responsibility for taking the Equality Act through Parliament and was Solicitor General in the last Labour government, the House of Common's most senior law officer.
Vera is a trustee of national charity RESPECT, working with domestic violence perpetrators, male victims and young people, and formerly a trustee of charity Eaves.
Vera was appointed as an Honorary Doctor of civil law at Northumbria University and is a visiting Professor of Law in practice at Newcastle.
In her role as PCC Vera has continuaed to champion the needs of victims and has tirelessly campaigned to end violence against women and girls. In April 2015 Vera set up Victims First Northumbria (VFN) as the first ‘one stop shop’ for victims of crime in Northumbria – delivering a vision ‘to create a Northumbria area where victims of crime feel confident to seek help and when they do, they are provided with a choice of high quality support tailored to meet their individual needs’.
Chief Constable Steve Ashman
Steve Ashman was born and raised in South Tyneside before joining the Metropolitan Police in 1987. He worked across North London in a variety of roles uniformed and plain clothes, all of which were operational. He served in Tottenham, Kings Cross, Wood Green, Hornsey, Holloway and Edmonton, and was a Territorial Support Group Inspector across North West London. After 15 years in London he returned to the North East as a Superintendent in Cleveland Police where he served in Middlesbrough and Hartlepool before undertaking his first headquarters and non-operational role after some 20 years of policing.
Steve joined Northumbria Police as an Assistant Chief Constable in 2009 and has progressed through to appointment as Chief Constable in May 2015. He has experienced policing in three very different forces as well as undertaking policing responsibilities across Europe as a football commander and has provided support to the Foreign Office in respect of public order and critical incident command in the Caribbean, Oman and Libya. He was the Gold commander for Operation Bulwark as well as the Regional Gold for the Olympic Games and the Torch Relay.
Following appointment as Chief Constable Steve became a director of VFN helping to ensure the rights, entitlements and needs of victims are at the heart of local policing, something he cares passionately about.
Over the past 15 years Janet has worked at a board level within the public sector. In addition to working in a variety of voluntary organisations, Janet has gained experience in the field of corporate governance in Health, Policing, Probation and Education.
Janet has led a successful professional career as a solicitor practising in Northumberland and North Tyneside, initially in family and criminal law but has more recently engaged in probate, wills and trusts.
At present, Janet sits as an independent member on the Northumbria Police and Crime Panel, and scrutinises work carried out by the Police and Crime Commissioner of Northumbria. In addition to sitting as a lay member on disciplinary panels, her current position is now Lay Chair of the Clinical Commissioning Group in Northumberland.
Janet is passionate about making a positive difference to the lives of vulnerable people and particularly those who become victims of crime.
Ruth Thompson, OBE
Ruth is an experienced non-executive director, including economic development, energy, higher education, health, and charity sectors. A solicitor by profession, she began her career in local government, including adviser to Tyne & Wear Fire and Civil Defence Authority. She joined the energy industry to become Regional Solicitor for Northern Gas, then changed career to become Network Director of Transco plc and later Group Corporate Affairs Director of National Grid plc, dealing with UK and EU public policy and communications across the UK and USA. She was awarded an OBE in 2002 for services to New Deal.
By Royal appointment, she was High Sheriff for the County of Tyne and Wear 2014/15 when she worked extensively with those engaged in the administration of justice, business, public service as well as the charity and voluntary sectors: in addition, she specifically devoted her year in office to raising awareness of the impact of domestic violence and abuse on children and young people and supporting those working to help them.
Peter has held the position of Gentoo’s Chief Executive and Executive Director since the transfer of Sunderland City Councils housing stock to the private sector in 2001 – although recently he has announced he is stepping down from this position.
Before the formation of Gentoo, Peter worked within the local government for 30 years. His career lead him to work as the Director of Health and Housing in Sunderland from 1979 to 2001. Peter has held positions with the Northern Consortium of Housing Authorities, Business in the Community and the Chartered Institute of Housing.
Peter is also a Prince of Wales ambassador for responsible business in the North East. Due to his experience working with victims, Peter has developed a passion for those suffering internet abuse. Peter hopes for legal change to ensure these victims have a quicker and more effective route to justice.