Posted: Friday 11th October 2019
Last week, the Constabulary and I marked the National Police Memorial Day and paid tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. It is at times like this that we must remember and celebrate those who are no longer here but also reflect on the immense courage and dedication shown by our officers every day. As part of last week’s tribute, the names of the 100 officers who have lost their lives were read aloud; let’s make sure that 101 names aren’t read out at next year’s Memorial Day.
The Home Office has announced the recruitment target for police forces across the country as part of a drive to take on 20,000 new officers. I’m delighted to say that Avon and Somerset will be recruiting an additional 137 officers in 2020-2021 with more to follow to help keep our communities safe. Investment in policing is long overdue especially as the police face ongoing pressures, one of these being more frequent Extinction Rebellion protests. As much as I support Extinction Rebellion’s cause, their demonstrations are taking police away from their core duties. In this week’s London protests, Met police have requested mutual aid from other forces and our Constabulary is sending 20 - 30 officers to support their team police the demonstrations.
I’m looking forward to attending the South West Regional Special Constable and Police Support Volunteer Awards this coming Sunday. I was lucky enough to be part of the judging panel for the awards and it was privilege to read the various example of how volunteers always go above and beyond what could ever be expected of them. Volunteers are invaluable to the policing service and play a vital role in ensuring our communities are safe and feel safe. So, I want to say thank you for their continued support and for the time they selflessly give to help the police forces across the south west.
Finally, this week is Rural Crime Week of Action. We are lucky to have a mixture of urban and rural communities, and local people from these areas have different worries and concerns. For residents in more rural areas, their farm is both their home and business and fly tipping, poaching and theft have a significant impact on their livelihoods and personal lives.
I met with the current Chair of Avon and Somerset Rural Crime Forum following a visit to Warren Farm and heard from those in rural communities about the isolation and vulnerability they feel living in remote areas. I would urge those who live in rural communities to join Farm Watch, Horse Watch or Neighbourhood Watch schemes; by using your knowledge and awareness of what is happening on and around your land, you can help the Constabulary to deter criminals. It’s time we shut the gate on rural crime.