Posted: Friday 6th January 2017
My Christmas and New Year thoughts were firmly with those working over what transpired to be an unexpectedly busy festive period. With two tragic murders, many missing people and an increase on last year in the number of those arrested for drink and drug driving, it certainly wasn’t a quiet time for those who were working in policing. I would like to once again take the opportunity to thank all of our emergency services, hospitals and voluntary and charity organisations who work tirelessly and who gave up their own special family time to keep our communities’ safe and feeling safe.
As we enter a new year, my aspirations as PCC for 2017 remain unchanged. I want the police to continue to focus on protecting the most vulnerable from harm, acting as a fierce advocate for victims. Part of this will include my continued campaign to make Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE) statutory and I will be working closely with Mayor Marvin Rees on this. Only this week, the Children’s Commissioner has highlighted the lack of protection for children who use the internet and social media. A particularly poignant concern raised in the same week Leicestershire Police have shared ‘Kayleigh’s Love Story’ – a film made to educate young people and adults of the dangers of grooming and sexual exploitation following Kayleigh’s tragic death in November 2015.
As your PCC I want to ensure that I remain your voice in policing. I will continue to work on strengthening and improving your local policing teams, tackling the crimes that matter most to you. I want to ensure that Avon and Somerset Constabulary has the right people, right equipment and right culture, to ensure your policing service is representative of our communities. I will continue to work with the Chief Constable to explore opportunities for working together more closely with other police forces and key partners to support those in need.
In my last column I talked about volunteering opportunities, both inside and outside of the policing service. Anna, my Custody Visiting and voluntary sector officer, in her spare time volunteers with the Age UK befriending scheme and in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions has shared her experiences in a blog. Anna has been volunteering with the scheme in Bristol for almost eight years and in that time has made a very special friendship with a lady called Margaret. Anna spends a couple of hours every week visiting Margaret, but both Anna and Margaret express the invaluable difference it makes having each other in their lives. I would encourage you to read their heart-warming story on my website.
As your PCC, I will continue to make myself and the Chief Constable available to you. On Tuesday, January 24, we will be hosting one of our bi-monthly Facebook live videos where I will put your questions to the Chief Constable. Next week, I will also be attending the Southmead Project’s Wall of Silence exhibition, which aims to give abused children a louder voice. The exhibition shows the pain, honesty and bravery of survivors and I would encourage everyone to take the time to see it. Finally, with less than a month to go, there’s still time to submit your nomination for an Avon and Somerset policing hero for a Be Proud Award, nominate someone now - www.beproudawards.com