Posted: Friday 17th August 2018
Protecting the most vulnerable from harm is the number one policing priority that I have set Avon and Somerset Constabulary, after local people told me it was most important to them. Vulnerability comes in all shapes and sizes and can affect anyone at any given period in their lives. I’ve thought a lot about vulnerability this week as the Government published their Rough Sleeping Strategy. One could argue, what’s more vulnerable than being homeless and having to sleep on our streets, open to the elements and far away from the stability a home setup offers. On top of this, many of those who face rough sleeping often have associated and complex needs such as holding the pain of tragedy or exploitation, battling substance misuse issues or suffering from mental health crises.
While I as your Police and Crime Commissioner and the police will do all we can within our gift to support those who are homeless, it’s clear this societal problem cannot be solved by policing alone. Working together with partners such as Bristol City Council, local housing providers and other support services will be vital in keeping people off our streets. St Mungo’s, a local charity and housing association in Bristol, do some fantastic work to support people who are sleeping rough, in hostels and at risk of homelessness. Through supporting some of the most vulnerable members of our communities, they help them rebuild their lives and fulfil their hopes and ambitions. If you would like to help make a difference to our homeless community you can always look to volunteer with the charity.
Meeting people who make a difference is the premise behind my ‘Pride Awards’ the latest of which I hosted on Tuesday this week. Once again I had the privilege of reading nominations which told of people saving lives, fundraising for charity, volunteering to support those most in need and those who devote their careers to serving their communities. I always look forward to the Pride Awards as I get to meet some truly extraordinary people, people who go about their everyday lives, making a difference to their local community with little or no recognition. These are the people who we rely on to support our communities to make them stronger and who selflessly day-in-day out work hard to ensure the places we live and work are safe and feel safe for all.
Unfortunately not everyone shares this view and the Constabulary and I have recently published the names of those individuals charged with drink and drug driving offences following this summer’s Operation Tonic. This year’s summer road safety campaign – Op Tonic – saw 133 people arrested for driving and drug driving in a month-long crackdown. Of those arrested, 74 people have been charged and a further 30 have been released under investigation. During that time, the highest reading recorded was 149ug, which is nearly four times the legal limit! Let’s be clear, it is never acceptable to drink and drug drive. When driving under the influence of any substance and taking to the road, you put both yourself and others at risk and the consequences can be devastating. Don’t take the risk!
Finally, I was saddened to hear the news of a second attack on Westminster this week. It is a stark reminder of how we must remain vigilant and aware of our personal safety, while not allowing these troubled individuals to disrupt our lives. The police are always prepared for incidents such as this and we cannot let incidents like this shadow the way we go about our days. We must remember the police will be there and will be the ones willing to run towards danger when the rest of us run away, and for that I’ll always be grateful.