Posted: Friday 3rd November 2017
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is happening and together we need to stop it before it starts. This week young people, Barnardo’s, Bristol, and my office hosted an event that brought together leaders, influencers and other young people, to encourage them to talk about CSE and healthy relationships. Free from Fear
is an idea born from the young supported at Barnardo’s, to raise awareness of CSE amongst other young people. Bravely sharing their experiences, the young people told their stories and with the help of poetry and performance, created three short films. We hope this will start conversations about what our young people have a right to expect from a loving and healthy relationship. You can watch the films by visiting www.youtube.com/AvonandSomersetPCC
All of this comes at a time when the awareness of CSE is increasing, with high-profile cases involving celebrities and famous individuals, gaining media attention. Sexually exploited children suffer adverse consequences that blight their lives. Preventing their exploitation and responding quickly and effectively to stopping exploitation is vital. On October 1, a new £1.5 million CSE service went live, which will be delivered by Barnardo’s and funded by my office and the area’s five local authorities. There is complete determination across Bristol, South Gloucestershire and the wider area to help care for and support young people who need it most.
You no doubt will have heard the comments made by Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP this week, regarding police funding. The Chief Constable and I have shared our concerns with the Government in ‘The Tipping Point’ report regarding the risks, threats, rise in crime and demand that the police face. There’s always more that can be done with more money, but to deliver a sustainable future we need at least £15 million a year which is equivalent to 350 police officers and PCSOs. I feel passionately about ensuring Bristol and all our local communities get the investment needed for policing and I will continue to fight for this on your behalf.
It’s important the Government are fully aware of the consequences of the cuts and how the allocation of resources have to be balanced across responding to the many serious and complex demands the police face. This was the point I recently made when responding to criticism that the police no longer investigate burglary – this is simply not true. There are many reasons why some burglaries are not fully resolved including the nature of the crime itself, or a lack of investigative opportunity with no evidence, witnesses or further lines of enquiry. It’s important our residents are safe and feel safe in their homes knowing their property is secure. However going forward it will be harder for the police to balance the growing demand and shrinking resources.
Finally, drugs have a detrimental impact not only on those who abuse them but also the wider community. Tuesday November 14, sees the start of a new four-part BBC Three series - Drugsland - which was filmed in Bristol and showcases the work of the police, drug support partners and the lives of drug dealers and users. The episodes have been described as ‘ground breaking’ in the way they give unprecedented access to the ‘consumption, dealing, treatment and policing of illegal drugs’ in Bristol. The first episode, which includes local neighbourhood officers PS Chris Green and PC Ben Spence, focuses on the day-to-day lives of those working to keep drugs off our streets. You can view all the episodes on BBC iplayer.