Posted: Friday 26th May 2017
I never thought I would be writing a second open letter with the Chief Constable to our communities about another terror attack so soon after Westminster. Like you I’ve been absolutely shocked, appalled and disgusted by the act of evil that was inflicted on young children, their parents and their grandparents. My thoughts are with the friends and families of those killed or injured.
In such adversity I’ve taken strength, like I’m sure you have, from our country’s response. In Manchester we saw local people provide lifts, shelter and simple acts of kindness to victims in shock at the events they’d seen unfold. On each occasion we saw heroes and heroines from all walks of life come to the aid of people when they most needed it. It’s that spirit that holds us together and unites us against those who try to divide us and we should be very proud of that.
The Chief Constable has already said there are no specific threats to the South West at this stage. Local people’s safety is mine and the Chief Constable’s top priority. In Bristol you will see extra officers in your local area and all through the Bank Holiday weekend. They are there to be visible and to provide reassurance at this difficult time. I would urge all local people to be alert, but not alarmed. I would also encourage you to stop and speak to our police officers and PCSOs, they are working extra hours to keep us all safe and I know they will appreciate your support.
Last week we were able to recognise just some of the men, women and young people within Avon and Somerset Constabulary who go the extra mile for victims and residents and do all they can to ensure we are safe and bring offenders to justice. It was a wonderful evening where we heard exactly how much the many Bristol schools police officers mean to their pupils, teachers and parents. As well as the dedication, care and compassion for which PC Tina Newman has shown to sex workers in Bristol. We also heard about the Somerset-based Operation Hazel team, who are working hard to tackle county lines activity. County lines is the term given to activity involving organised drug gangs from major cities targeting vulnerable drug users across the country. To date the team have executed 75 search warrants and have arrested 93 people.
Yesterday I walked around St George with Mayor Marvin Rees and as I spoke to community and faith leaders I was reassured by the conversations we had but I cannot reiterate enough that no one should be subject to hate of any kind. I would urge anyone who experiences any type of hate abuse to report it. There are many services offering specialist support for victims of hate crime including SARI (Stand Against Racism and Inequality) and Bristol Hate Crime Services or by calling 0800 171 2272.