Posted: Monday 30th December 2013
When I reflect on my diary for the past year I am amazed that there have been enough hours in the day to have attended all the meetings and events. Despite this I am conscious of all the people I am yet to meet and look forward to doing so throughout 2014.
I am pleased to be able to say that I feel we are ending the year on a positive having last week successfully hosted Bristol’s first Road Safety Summit and this week announced funding for the National Ugly Mugs (NUM) Scheme. The NUM Scheme is a pioneering initiative which helps improve the safety of street sex workers. This was particularly poignant as not only did this week mark the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers but also saw the sentencing of an offender to over three years in jail for the rape of a sex worker. This not only sends a powerful message to offenders that this behaviour will not be tolerated but also encourages victims in particular sex workers to come forward and report.
A focus on victims has also been at the centre of business over the past few weeks and will continue to be so into the New Year. The publication and enforcement of the Ministry of Justice’s Victims Code of Practice is providing clear legislative guidance and I am particularly supportive of the new guidelines that give the victims’ families the opportunity to read their personal statement in court. Enabling victims’ voices to be heard.
We have also seen progress on the draft Modern Slavery Bill and plans to increase the maximum custodial sentence for modern slavery from 14 yeasrs to life. The draft bill is a step in the right direction and comes only a week after a police and local authority operation to tackle modern slavery in Bristol and surrounding area.
I have always championed openness and transparency in my role as Commissioner as I feel it is in the interest of local people in gaining a better insight into the police. Not only this year have I set up an Independent Residents' Panel to look at police complaints but, following requests from residents, asked the Chief Constable to look into the naming of resigned and dismissed officers who broke the law.
This development got me thinking more widely and led me to the following questions for which I would welcome your thoughts and feedback. Do residents feel that 'naming' should be extended further? For example, do you think that we should be naming drink drivers of kerb crawlers? I welcome your views on this subject and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, I would like to send the warmest wishes for a happy and peaceful New Year to all the residents and communities of Avon and Somerset.
I recently attended the Bridge Learning Campus in Hartcliffe where I selected two winning designs for my Christmas card this year. I would like to thank and congratulate Daria Domagala and Lainey Bartley whose designs were not only inseperable but brought a smile to my face and made me feel extremely festive. Both winning creations have been animated and emailed to the many people I have met during the past year. Please do have a look on my website to see the winning cards.
Happy New Year!