Posted: Tuesday 10th December 2013
Meeting inspirational people and helping to fund (with limited resources) innovative ideas has been the reoccurring theme of the last couple of weeks. Following my one year in office celebrations I was proud to see a community safety grant funded project find its feet and make a huge impact across Bristol. The ‘This is not an excuse to rape me’ campaign co-ordinated by Safer Bristol, in partnership with other voluntary organisations, places responsibility on the perpetrator making it explicitly clear that there is no excuse for rape. As well as producing a myth busting booklet to challenge attitudes towards rape, the campaign included billboards of images of women in low cut tops, women enjoying a night on the town and images of a married couple. Rape and sexual assault is never the victims fault and there is some fantastic work being done to raise awareness of rape, encourage reporting and supporting victims.
Last week also marked the national domestic abuse awareness week and Avon and Somerset Police gave people an insight into the work they do to tackle domestic abuse launching a week of activities to encourage reporting. Initiatives included a twitter takeover with Bristol Safeguarding Coordination Manager Natalie Steadman, the production of a short film into an officer’s role in a victim’s journey, a web chat and a live twitter feed from the control room. I too am looking into the victim’s journey with the aim of simplifying and improving the experience of victims by listening to victims, joining up services and ensuring that victims have access to appropriate support. If you have been a victim of crime it is important that your experience of the police, criminal justice service and support services is taken into consideration as we work to improve support for victims. You can take part in the victims experience survey by visiting my website.
I am always delighted to hear about inventive and original ideas especially those carried out by local people working to keep their communities safe. Amongst my latest Pride Awards winners recognised for their efforts were Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators, volunteers who do a lot of work particularly with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) team and a councillor who has implemented various schemes towards tackling anti-social behaviour. I was particularly moved by a survivor of rape who had taken the time to nominate two of the police officers for the way they dealt with her case. Her frank and explicit nominations not only outlined the strength she has found in overcoming her frightening ordeal but were testament to the professionalism shown by the officers that helped her. I am always looking to hear about local people who have gone beyond their call of duty to either help someone or support their community and if you know of someone you can nominate them online.
Road Safety continues to be a hot topic particularly since the darker nights are upon us and it is clear that the passion for road safety extends across the Force area, something highlighted to me at a Public Forum in Bath. Bristol Mayor George Ferguson, Chief Constable Nick Gargan and I will next week host Bristol’s first Road Safety Summit and places are filling up quickly. My office has received a number of road safety questions and I see the summit as a chance to answer these and let people know about the work Bristol City Council and the police are doing on road safety. Including how we are going to work together so that the blame-game can stop and tolerance and safety for all (pedestrians, cyclists and motorists) can start. I would encourage anyone who would like to have their say to register for the event on my website or tweet your questions using #RSSHYS.