The Board of Trustees
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 Dame Vera Baird QC
Board Member / Director Communication
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 continued 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’.
Vera was re-elected Police and Crime Commissioner in May 2016 and appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2017 New Year’s Honours for services to Women and Equality.
Board Member Finance
Peter has held the position of Gentoo’s Chief Executive and Executive Director since the transfer of Sunderland City Council's 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.
Ruth Thompson OBE
Board Member Business Development
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.
Chief Constable Winton Keenen
Winton Keenen is the Temporary Chief Constable of Northumbria Police. His policing career commenced in 1985 when he joined Northumbria Police as a frontline Police Constable posted to Sunderland. Since then, he has had an extremely varied operational background, including being posted abroad. His expertise ranges from being a Strategic Firearms Commander to working in Professional Standards, Force Intelligence, Organised Crime and Special Branch.
In 2003/4, he was posted to Iraq as the first Contingent Commander for the deployment of United Kingdom non-military police officers, acting a mentor to members of the Iraq Police Service. While there he was appointed as the lead officer for a large, multi-national contingent of military and civilian personnel.
In October 2017, Winton Keenen was appointed as Acting Chief Constable for the Northumbria area which is the sixth largest force area in the country. In November 2017 he joined the Board of Trustees at Victims First Northumbria bringing with him a wealth of experience and passion to deliver outstanding policing and victim care. Winton has served as a Police Officer in Northumbria Police for over 30 years and continues to be dedicated to the role.
Board Member Performance
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.