Posted: Friday 2nd March 2018
I’m writing this week’s column watching the snow settle thick and fast at Police and Fire HQ and having just seen that the Met Office have issued an official red weather alert. I cannot recall a time when it has been as cold, particularly in March. Temperatures of -5 must be quite a shock for the daffodils which have started to arrive and usually hale as the first signs of Spring. While we must adhere to the red alert and not travel, our emergency services will continue to work but in extremely tough conditions. I am sure all our thanks are with them as they continue to keep us safe and deal with the extreme "Beast from the East".
It’s not often we experience such severe weather conditions, but when we do it’s important that we take the necessary precautions. It's important that we look out for each other during this severe weather and check on those that we know who are most vulnerable particularly the elderly and the young. Keep warm and stay safe and try not to make unnecessary journeys if you don’t have to. Weather like this is not usual and can catch us all off guard. Here’s hoping storm Emma passes smoothly and we can get back to the weather we’re more accustomed to.
I was supposed to be spending the end of this week in London for the official screening of Channel 4’s FGM Detectives, which follows Avon and Somerset officers, and which aired on Tuesday. Channel 4’s Cathy Newman has done a fantastic job of producing the hard-hitting documentary which focusses on the unacceptable practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Despite FGM being a practice which is banned in this country, it is thought that nearly 20,000 women a year across the UK are at risk of the procedure. However, to date there has never been a successful conviction since the law was applied.
As the national Police and Crime Commissioner representative for honour-based abuse, forced marriage and FGM, I am committed to protecting the most vulnerable from harm. Working with the police, partners, and affected communities, we need to challenge the practice of FGM and be very clear, that it is child abuse and against the law. We all have a responsibility to safeguard our young people and there is always more work that can be done to raise awareness and prevent crimes from happening in the first place.
One day there will be a prosecution in this country because I believe FGM is happening and together we must tackle this form of child abuse. The documentary is the product of two years of incredibly hard work by DCI Leanne Pook and a team of dedicated officers. I would encourage you to watch the documentary and hope it shines a light on this hidden practice and how important it is that we speak out for those who do not have a voice.
Before I finish, next week (March 6) I will be at the Easton Community Centre between 10-12pm for my next public drop-in. Hopefully the snow will have stopped by then and if you are around it would be great to see you. I’m also hoping to be joined by some of the dancers from Urban Tiger and Central Chambers to speak to them on their views of working in the sex entertainment industry – a hot topic this week as they apply for licence renewal. That’s what I consider important about these drop-ins, in order to truly represent you as your PCC it’s important I make myself available to you, so please come along.