Posted: Friday 12th October 2018
Knives cost lives and we must never be complacent about it. The repercussions of knife and serious violent crime are vast with devastating effects on not just the people involved, but the whole community. There has been a significant increase in knife crime here in Avon and Somerset, which has also been confirmed by the Police Federation. It’s important to disrupt criminal activity, and take as many knives off our streets as possible.
Police-led Operation Sceptre has introduced knife amnesty bins. Since October 2016 when surrender bins were first introduced in Avon and Somerset, hundreds and hundreds of knives have been handed over.
I want to make the message clear; carrying a weapon in Avon and Somerset will not be tolerated and I know the police are working closely with their local communities to ensure our streets remain weapon free. It’s in our best interest to be proactive, so when you’re out and about, walking the dog, doing the weekly shop or dropping your children off at school, remain vigilant. If you spot anything suspicious, report it to the police, it could just save a life.
On Tuesday this week I have the pleasure of opening the 5th Citizen’s Academy in Bridgwater. The Citizen’s Academy is a great opportunity for local people from different communities, backgrounds and with different life experiences, to gain a better insight into policing. Each academy aims to engage with different communities and aims to reach as many people as possible across our Force area. Previous academies have been held at Trinity, Portishead and Patchway and there was a targeted ‘mini’ academy which took place in Hartcliffe over the summer. Attendees range from students to retired members of the community, some involved in community groups and some aspiring to work within the organisation. Attendees have a variety of views ranging from critical to supportive, and can take part in the programme to learn much more about policing and its increasing demands.
Tackling Hate Crime is a huge part of the number one policing priority, Protecting the Most Vulnerable from Harm, that I have set Avon and Somerset Constabulary. Hate crime is an ever increasing issue and has seen a 64% increase in incidents since 2015. Ahead of National Hate Crime Awareness week (13th – 20th October), we must stand together against those that incite prejudice and hate. We must celebrate our differences and condemn those who discriminate. Next Wednesday, during my live webchat on Facebook, I will hold the Chief Constable Andy Marsh to account on a variety of topics, one of those being Hate Crime. These webchats allow me to regularly put your questions to the Chief Constable and hold him to account publicly.
The streets we live in should be a place free from discrimination, intolerance and prejudice. Sadly, this is not always the case and we still hear of far too many hate crime incidents. That’s why it’s so important we are firm in our message that hate has no home in our communities. I recently welcomed my third grandchild into my family and it has been a reminder that we must make Avon and Somerset a safe place to bring up our children. This is too big a job for the police alone, the police need your eyes and your ears to make our communities strong and robust.