Posted: Friday 6th March 2015
This week the city of Bristol, and indeed communities across the country, closely followed the search for Becky Watts. When the news came it was the outcome we had all feared and my thoughts go out to Becky’s family and friends at such a difficult time.
The search for Becky was a period of intense activity and Avon and Somerset Police were helped not only by colleagues from other forces but by the public, who came together to assist with the search and help spread the word that Becky was missing. The sense of community and common purpose shown is something the city should be proud of at what is a desperately sad time.
Elsewhere, proposals were announced this week for new safeguards to help tackle child sexual exploitation. As well as criminal sanctions for those who fail to protect children, the proposed measures include a new helpline to report bad practice in the public sector, prioritising child sexual abuse and – crucially – making more support available for survivors.
One of my priorities is tackling domestic and sexual violence so I welcome any measure which leaves us in a stronger position to tackle child sexual exploitation (CSE). In Bristol the police, local authority and a whole host of organisations and individuals are working together to prevent CSE and respond quickly and appropriately where abuse is suspected.
The key thing is that organisations must work together to share expertise, information and resources. Not one of us can solve the issue by ourselves but by working together we’re in a much stronger position. For example, during a CSE case which went through court last year the police had tremendous support from Barnado’s and other agencies in supporting the victims and it would have been much harder to have done it without them. Although there is still much to be done, we have a good reputation for the work we are all doing in Bristol.
We should be celebrating when we’re doing things well just as we reflect when things could have been done better. It is with this in mind that I set up my Pride Awards, a chance for the community to nominate people who have made a difference in some way. Today I welcome to headquarters the latest recipients of Pride Awards and they include a Victim Support volunteer who has supported victims after terrible ordeals, an NCT Breastfeeding Counsellor who runs a toddler group and provides reassurance and advice for new mothers and two women who have set up activities for children on estates where they live. We also recognise some police officers including two who jumped into Bristol harbour and saved the life of a woman who had fallen in. They have all touched individual lives in their own way and I look forward to being able to say thank you and well done to them.
Until next time,