Posted: Thursday 20th April 2017
Did you know that this week is National Stalking Awareness Week? Stalking is unacceptable and it is a criminal offence. The week has been established by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust in a bid to dispel the myths associated with stalking and to encourage victims to seek help if they recognise the signs. Reports of stalking and harassment in Avon and Somerset have increased by about 52% in the last year. It is thought this is down to increased reporting after legislation changes, which saw two new specific criminal offences, come into force in 2015, providing better protection for victims. The Constabulary have also increased the training for officers to be able to better identify the signs of stalking.
Stalking can include any persistent and unwanted behaviour that causes anxiety or fear. The behaviour of the offender is obsessive and can take the form of social media, texting, calling, sending unwanted gifts or a mixture of these and other actions. Raising awareness of this crime is essential in encouraging people to come forward and seek help from the police or other agencies. The impact of stalking on victims and their families can be devastating and I would urge anyone affected by this crime not to suffer in silence. Please tell someone. If you have concerns or have concerns that someone you know is a victim of stalking you can contact the Suzy Lamplugh Trust’s helpline on 0808 802 0300.
Recommended speed limits are there for our protection – they are limits, not targets. This week saw the introduction of increased fines for those people who drive at excessive speeds. If you are caught driving at speeds in at or in excess of 41mph in a 20mph zone, or 101mph on a motorway, new guidelines state that magistrates will be able to increase the fine by up to 175% of your weekly income. I would like to take this one step further and see those caught reckless driving having to re-take their test. Sadly, too many people still think it is acceptable to break the speed limit when driving. If only they were more aware that excessive speed is a critical factor in many road traffic collisions.
Motorists who exceed speed limits are not only increasing their chances of being involved in a collision but they are also often risking lives, their own as well as others. When someone is killed or seriously injured by a speeding driver, not only do these collisions have a life-long impact on the lives of victims, but also on their friends and families. Local people want to feel safe on our roads and I welcome any initiatives that make our roads a safer place for all those who use them. Road users who lawfully abide and respect the rules of the roads will be unaffected by these cost rises.
Finally, on Wednesday I was invited to attend the film premiere of Crimestoppers’ What Would You Do Project. The premiere was an extension of the projects initial set up, which saw over 400 children from schools across the city come together in a bid to staying safe in modern day Bristol through the means of acting. Social enterprise Unique Voice was commissioned to develop the project and have now translated the children’s work into a film. It was really heart-warming to meet the children involved in the project and to see their parents’ pride in their efforts. They should all feel incredibly proud at what they’ve achieved.