Posted: Friday 20th December 2019
This week, you might have heard of the tragic death of a teenager in Bedminster and the conviction of a 14-year-old boy for manslaughter. I’m sure other instances of arrests and charges in connection with serious violence or knife crime will be of concern to everyone within our communities. Sadly, knife crime continues it be an issue across the country.
For young people, perceptions of what their options are can be skewed by fear and pressure from friends or peers – as we know many of those who carry knives report that they do so to feel safe.
But it is important for us to remind our children that 99% of young people do not carry a knife, despite how frequently we hear things in the news.
We need to start the conversation now to make sure young people know the facts and have the support to make the right choices. As a parent, talking about knife crime can be difficult but, by doing so, you could be saving a life. I would urge you to visit the police website for advice and support.
I’m pleased that the work of our Violence Reduction Unit in Avon and Somerset is underway after we pushed to be one of 18 areas in the country to receive additional funding to help reduce the number of people getting involved in the level of violence that causes real harm to individuals, communities and society as a whole.
We have used this money to bring together the five local authorities in Avon and Somerset and a wide range of agencies including education, health and police partners to work together on a preventative approach based on early intervention.
Talking of vulnerability, I want to urge everyone do something to look out for older members of our community, especially during the festive season.
Sadly, over Christmas, many people feel isolated and the Constabulary receive a huge amount of calls from local people who do not need help from the police but have no one else to turn to.
It is easy to get wrapped up in our own plans but one small act of kindness can be a lifeline to someone at a time they need to most. I want to encourage you to reach out to people who live alone and send a spare Christmas card to someone who might feel isolated to help us tackle loneliness in our communities.
Finally, I want to take a moment to think about the people who will be working hard day and night over the festive period to ensure our safety and protection. It’s also an extremely busy time of year for those who work in emergency services and I know they all go above and beyond to keep us safe. I want to say a massive thank you to those in NHS, police and other emergency services as well as those in voluntary and charity organisations who work hard during Christmas to support local people.
Let’s start the New Year with kindness and tolerance towards one another and continue to bring our communities together in 2020. I wish you all the best with your celebrations in the coming weeks.