Ray Mallon is a tee-total, non-smoker with two grown up daughters.
He was raised in Stockton by his mum Pauline and father Joe, the owner of the well known local undertakers Crake and Mallon.
Following into the family business was one option for the young Ray and, like many other local school leavers in the 60s, he also had an interview at ICI.
But by then Ray was an established international water polo player and competitive swimmer. He believed the police offered an interesting career and also a chance to improve his sporting skills.
He went on to make over 50 appearances for Great Britain including some as captain - but he was to make an even bigger splash as a police officer.
He is credited with introducing a form of policing into Hartlepool and then Middlesbrough in the nineties which became known as "Zero Tolerance' policing.
This differs from the New York version in that it DID NOT require more money or manpower to implement. It also DOES NOT mean locking people up for minor offences.
Zero Tolerance means that turning a blind eye to crime and anti-social behaviour is NOT an option. Police and partners WILL intervene. Follow the link for further information on Zero Tolerance Policing [53kb].
The strategy came to national attention when it resulted in major falls in crime and Bill Bratton - New York Police Commissioner - visited Ray in Hartlepool to exchange ideas.
When Det. Supt. Mallon took over as crime manager in Middlesbrough in October 1996 he announced he would quit unless he cut crime in Middlesbrough by 20 per cent in 18 months. He met his target within a year.
Ray left the force and stood as an independent in Middlesbrough's first Mayoral elections in May 2002 and won, recording 64 per cent of the votes cast.
After taking office Ray conducted a six month "top to bottom' review of the council and the way it did business.
Many changes were brought in as a result, including a large scale reduction in the expenses claimed by councillors.
Ray set the tone for his leadership style in an address to town and council which launched his "Raising Hope, Reducing Fear' strategy.
This may have owed a little to the poster from The Shawshank Redemption which used to hang in his office at Middlesbrough Police station and which he was photographed with Tony Blair and Helen Mirren on the eve of the May 1997 election.
The poster now hangs in Mallon's Mayoral office and the strapline reads "Fear can hold you prisoner, Hope can set you free'. It continues to act as an inspiration.
Ray has stood for re-election on two occasions and on both occasions secured over 50% of the vote. His manifestoes focus on improving the quality of life of local people both through national intervention and self-help.
So whilst campaigning for a fair deal of national funding for the town, Ray will also stress the importance of local people adopting a healthier lifestyle and improving their education and skills and those of their children.
His 2011 manifesto forms the blueprint for the Council's priorities. Its seven main points are:
- To fight for a fairer deal from national Government for Middlesbrough.
- To continue to ensure that crime, the fear of crime and anti-social behaviour is reduced.
- To ensure the GCSE A-C pass rate progress is maintained.
- To reduce the number of claimants in the town by working with partners to equip local people with the skills to secure the jobs that are being created and to boost apprenticeship numbers by insisting upon Local Apprenticeship Schemes being a standard part of planning agreements.
- To continue to improve the public and private housing stock of Middlesbrough whilst ensuring those affected are treated fairly and receive the full compensation due to them.
- To further increase and enhance the attractiveness of the town to visitors.
- To further improve the road network of Middlesbrough.