Posted: Monday 17th March 2014
I have been reading the letters in the Bristol Post on female genital mutilation (FGM) with great interest, particularly from one reader who stated that FGM is no different to Jewish circumcision and I disagree.
I firmly believe that FGM is child abuse. I do not believe this is something to which we should turn a "cultural" blind eye. I have supported many of the campaigns to highlight FGM prevalence in Bristol.
I have funded a report into occurrences of FGM in the city and I am expecting to be able to share the results soon. I am extremely proud of the work by Daughters of Eve and Fahma Mohamed. Fahma is an inspirational young woman and someone Bristol should be immensely proud of.
Her work over the last month to raise awareness of this issue now has the weight of the United Nations and a promise by the Education Secretary for a schools programme. This is a fantastic achievement. Fahma is a powerful role model for our young people and of a city that is prepared to speak up about this issue.
I was on Bristol's community radio station BCFM and among the topics was Trinity Road police station, stop and search and police complaints.
I once again reconfirmed the commitment that a police station base will remain in the area. So, too, did the chief constable on BCFM and BBC Radio Bristol. Even if Trinity did close, we are both committed to keeping a base in heart of the community.
The police's use of stop and search is one that divides many people. I, too, worry about stop and search eroding people's confidence in policing.
Recently a report highlighting that black, minority and ethnic people were six times more likely to be stopped by the police in Bristol came to light.
The figures were from 2011 and the current data states that the disproportionality rate is now 1.5 for BME communities and 2.5 for black communities. While this has improved I am fully aware that when stop and search is not used properly and a full explanation is not given by the officer it can impact on the communities' confidence in the police.
The Home Office is currently reviewing stop and search. I have shared my views with the Home Secretary and concerns around the power eroding people's trust in policing, particularly when stop and search is not used openly and transparently.
I am glad to see that Jean Taylor is on the mend and smiling again, following the attack in her home. She has shown great resilience and forgiveness, which cannot be easy to do.
Jean is still overwhelmed by the response she has received from residents and she talks highly of investigating officer Paul Hopes, who among all the well-wishers has tried to support her through a difficult and trying time. Police have now released CCTV of someone they would like to speak to in connection with Jean's attack and I would urge everyone to look at the police website. The charity Crimestoppers is offering £3,000 for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of the person responsible.