Posted: Friday 8th February 2019
Earlier this week, my plans to increase the policing part of the council tax were approved by the Police and Crime panel. By increasing policing by £2 a month for the average band D household, local people will see investment in Avon and Somerset Constabulary for the first time in a decade. It means that Chief Constable Andy Marsh and I will be able to tackle the areas that mean the most to local people such as burglary, drug crime and violent crime. We will also be able to recruit 100 additional officers, which is a positive step and the first recruitment over our established levels since 2004.
I want local people to see and feel the difference in the Constabulary’s fight against crime. Along with the Chief Constable, I’m committed to intensify our fight against serious violence on our streets, in our towns and cities with high profile disruption activity for burglary, drugs and serious violence. Sending a loud and clear message to criminals that coming into our area to commit their crime and exploit our children is not an option.
I full understand that this investment would have not been possible without local residents and I realise this is a big ask for households. While the money will not fix everything, it’s the first investment we’ve seen since austerity began in 2010 and it’s a really big step in the right direction.
As we continue to make our communities safe and feel safe, the Constabulary recently launched a new campaign, #JogOn. The police have worked in partnership with Bristol Zero Tolerance to give local people - both men and women – practical tips and guidance on how to stay safe while out exercising.
However, despite the police’s best efforts, the campaign has received mixed reactions and much of the national coverage has been inaccurate. The campaign came in response to a number of incidents in Bristol reported to us by runners who had not known how to respond. The police wanted to give them advice on how to exercise safely and also give a warning to perpetrators that this type of behaviour is unacceptable and that they could face prosecution.
The police’s advice about joining a running club was intended for those who are considering stopping exercising outside altogether because of harassment. The campaign is not asking women to change their behaviour and, as a solo runner myself, we want to empower people to exercise safely, free from harassment and intimidation. I will not alter my behaviour because I feel threatened by men and I do not expect other runners to do this either.
Finally, we marked International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM on Wednesday. #EndFGM was trending across social media as those who are involved in this work came together to reaffirm our commitment to end this practice. Recently in London, the mother of an FGM victim was the first person in the UK convicted for the practice. Although this was a historic moment, the prosecution was a result of a child being abused and we can only imagine how much pain the young girl suffered. We need to do more to ensure everyone understands that FGM is child abuse and take a stand against it. As soon as everyone understands that it is child abuse, and nothing less, we will then be able to bring FGM to an end.