Posted: Friday 20th July 2018
Rainbow flags, glitter and face paints were aplenty at this year’s Bristol Pride which my team and I attended last weekend. However despite the beautiful colours and wonderful outfits, people from across the city and beyond came together for one important reason – to celebrate Pride and our differences in sexuality. The biggest Pride gathering to date, it made me proud to see our city come together in this way; revelling in our diversity and unified in our feeling that undesirable behaviour towards another based on their sexuality will not be tolerated and is not welcome here. Every colour of the Pride flag is symbolic and I consider myself privileged to have walked holding it, side-by-side with everyone. Spirits were high and I am already looking forward to whatever Bristol Pride 2019 has in store. This weekend Pride in Bath will be being celebrated as part of the Bath Carnival and the following weekend Weston Pride will be coming to the seaside town.
I’ve spent a lot of time out and about over the past few weeks, attending St Paul’s Carnival and last Wednesday holding a public surgery at St Paul’s Learning Centre, and will be doing so over the coming weeks. On Monday July 23, I’ll be holding my next public surgery at the Market House in Ilminster, on Tuesday, July 24, I’m hosting a public surgery at Sainsbury’s in Emersons Green between 5 - 6.30pm, before joining my team at the Islamic Cultural Fayre on Sunday, July 29 and the Hartcliffe and Withywood Community Fun Day on Saturday, August 4. Meeting with residents and attending local events is vital in making sure I am and continue to be your voice in policing, ensuring the police are concentrating on the things that matter most to you.
One area of policing I know is important to our residents across the city is support for vulnerable victims and in particular victims of hate crime. I have always been clear, being targeted because of your age, sexuality, race, religion or gender identity is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in Avon and Somerset. This week Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICSFRS) released a report on police forces across the country and their response to supporting victims of hate crime. Protecting the most vulnerable from harm is a priority in my Police and Crime Plan and a lot of work has taken place to increase reporting and provide enhanced support for our most vulnerable victims of crime.
The report acknowledged Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s commitment and focus to tackling hate incidents and crimes and the support services in place to help victims. I hope people see the report and feel reassured the Constabulary have a good referral mechanism in Lighthouse, to ensure that hate crime victims are identified and receive the specialist support they require to help them cope and recover from their experience. In knowing it’s important to our residents I too have focused on this area and earlier this year my office undertook some independent assurance on the Constabulary and partners’ response to vulnerable victims and I will be publishing a report on this soon.
Finally, this past weekend marked the National Day of Memory, created by the charity Karma Nirvana to remember those killed in the name of ‘honour’. Across Avon and Somerset there are on average six cases of honour-based abuse (HBA) reported a month but the true scale of HBA and forced marriage (FM) is unknown due to its hidden nature. It’s so important we continue to talk about and raise awareness of HBA and FM. There is no honour in killing and crimes which cause unnecessary suffering and undermine fundamental rights. More information about this and for what to do if you need help can be found at www.avonandsomerset-pcc.gov.uk