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They are not just priorities on paper

Posted: Monday 31st March 2014
Blog: Blogs

Victims of domestic and sexual abuse will have every right to wonder whether the police will get it right after the headlines of this week. Lost evidence and a damming report are no endorsements of confidence particularly if you are a vulnerable victim.

I am clear that the priorities I have set for the police are not just priorities on paper. That importantly they will improve services for victims. While there has been some progress with domestic abuse. First point of contact between the police and the victim is good. Building on the work I want to see around victims being believed, understood and taken seriously. The police must respond to the failings identified by HMIC.

It is important to shine a light on failings and it is right that this week the police apologised to Ms D after losing her video interview. To come forward and report a sexual assault to the police takes courage. To experience the additional trauma of your case collapsing because of police failings is shocking. I will be keeping a critical eye on failings of this kind and will be scrutinising the Constabulary’s response to HMIC’s recommendations.

As the weather has briefly warmed up so too has the debate around how we all use our cities space. Road safety and how motorists, cyclists and pedestrians all travel together is the single most reason people contact me.

Recently I met with The Playing Out project, which was started by Bristol neighbours Alice Ferguson and Amy Rose who began by organising play sessions on their own street. It has now progressed to a community interest company giving practical support for children across the UK to be able to play safely on the streets where they live. It seems obvious but when lives and streets are dominated by cars and busy lives making time to play can be lost. I am keen on supporting communities taking ownership so that their children can play safely for a few hours a week.

I attended a lively forum in Kingswood last week with over 150 people. One of the most common questions I was asked was ‘what are the police doing to tackle cycling on pavements.’ Some people feel that the police do not take cycling on pavements seriously. There is a constant balance between the space and users. Some cyclists feel that certain road junctions are too dangerous.  The Minister who originally bought in the legislation Paul Boateng said: “The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of the traffic, and who show consideration to other pavement users.”

Over the past few months the police have been educating motorists and cyclists in Bristol rather than jumping straight to enforcement. With between one and two operations a week focusing on motoring and cycling offences, the police have spoken to over 1,175 people since November. 660 motorists have been stopped by the police for being in the cycle box at traffic lights and 231 cyclists have been warned about not stopping at red lights. 109 cyclists have been stopped for cycling on pavements. Some cyclists may feel that the police are heavy-handed others will tell me that they are not doing enough. It is part of the balance of us sharing and using the city’s space respectfully together.

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