Posted: Friday 6th October 2017
I am under no illusion how difficult a job policing is and the challenging circumstances police officers and our emergency services face on a daily basis in order to keep us safe.
This week’s online Buzzfeed News feature shows police officers dealing with students in Bristol on Freshers’ Week. It’s an eye-opening insight into our students’ nightlife and the issues the police and our emergency services are dealing with. I was struck by the problems PCSO Jack Marshall was called to in the city centre and the care and attention that they gave to our young people as well as dismayed by the impact alcohol-related issues have on policing. It perfectly highlights the fact that 86% of police work is non-crime related.
We all witnessed the challenging side of policing when Spencer Ashworth was fatally shot by police firearms officers near Portishead. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is independently investigating the circumstances of Mr Ashworth’s death and it will be some time before that investigation concludes and a detailed picture of what happened emerges. My thoughts remain with all of those affected by the incident, including Mr Ashworth’s family. The impact of last Wednesday’s incident on the Portbury Hundred reverberated across the area and I know that many were frustrated with the length of time the road was closed. It is of course important that the independent investigation was thorough and a detailed search of the scene to capture all of the evidence took place. I was extremely grateful to local people for their patience and understanding and I fully appreciate the tremendous inconvenience it caused.
There has been much disruption with road closures in recent weeks and sadly on most occasions this has also meant the precious loss of life. Behind many delays on our roads the police and other emergency services are often dealing with the death of someone’s loved one, sometimes many members of the same family in one car. Policing isn’t an easy job and days like this must be particularly difficult for officers and our firefighters who are often first on the scene. I would like to reassure residents that I am monitoring the motorway closures. I will be calling together a meeting with Highways England, police and fire over the closures and the impact on our communities. There are many questions from local residents about this and whether any more can be done and lessons learned from the recent incidents.
The emergency services open day at police and fire headquarters, Portishead last Sunday showcased the very best talents of our blue light services and the work they do in keeping us safe. I was delighted when tickets for our open day sold out quicker than Glastonbury and even happier when the rain stayed away for most of the day. I hope that next year we can offer even more people the opportunity to see our fantastic public services. It really does make it clear that we should not take our emergency services for granted and the essential work that they do on a daily basis to keep us safe from harm.