Posted: Monday 21st March 2016
I write this column with mixed emotions; a sense of pride at what’s been achieved over the past three years as Avon and Somerset’s first elected Police and Crime Commissioner and excitement at the challenges ahead over the next few months. What am I talking about you may be asking yourself? This is my final column pending the PCC elections in May this year and I can honestly say I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing my experiences, trials and tribulations and achievements with you, as your PCC, each fortnight.
One of the many highlights of my role as PCC has been my continued commitment, since day one, to being out and about visiting the local communities of Avon and Somerset and this week has been no different. I spent Tuesday visiting multiple organisations, including Opoka Bristol and Chandos House, who are both working to support members of our local communities with varying needs. I also had the pleasure of accompanying the Easton neighbourhood team Sergeant Chris Green on a walkabout of Stapleton Road.
I was privileged to meet, speak with and listen to local residents and business owners about what matters to them and gather their views on local policing. I also ended my day by hearing from residents at a public drop in session at Kingswood Civic Centre. What’s always clear to me is how much pride local people have in their community and how we are all joint in our vision of ensuring where we live and work is safe and feels safe. Throughout the day it was also clear to see the friendly relationships that the local beat teams have built with local people.
Working together with our local communities, neighbourhood teams, local authorities, health, fire and wider partners is paramount in continuing to effectively achieve improvements in delivering services that local people have a right to expect. We are all working towards the same goal of protecting our communities and as the age old saying goes multiple heads are better than one. Sharing resources, sharing examples of best practice and sharing a wide variety of skill sets is the only way forward in delivering an efficient and effective service that meets the needs of the local people we serve.
Partnership working is also fundamental when protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities. This week marks National Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day and aims to highlight the issues surrounding CSE as well as exploring how working together we can prevent it. Victims of CSE are extremely vulnerable and often don’t understand they have been exploited. Preventing their exploitation and responding quickly and effectively to stop exploitation will improve outcomes for vulnerable children.
I would encourage everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse and adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children. CSE is an issue which can only be tackled together and with different agencies working even more closely in partnership can we make a real difference. Last year, working in collaboration with Avon and Somerset and Wiltshire Police and PCC, Barnardo’s and the seven local authorities covering the two police areas, a pioneering new service was established to support victims of CSE. Since its launch over 160 children have been identified and are receiving the support they need.