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Steering young people away from violent crime

Posted: Friday 20th September 2019
Blog: September

Last Sunday, Avon and Somerset Police and Avon Fire and Rescue opened their doors to your emergency services for our annual Open Day. Thankfully, the weather was kind to us and we welcomed over 7,000 local people to our Headquarters to get a better insight into all aspects of emergency services. It was also a great opportunity for families to meet the people who work so hard to keep our communities safe.

It was wonderful to see people of all ages and from all walks of life explore the site and enjoy displays including Avon and Somerset’s Police Dog, Mounted and Firearms section as well as car cutting and search and rescue demonstrations from Avon Fire and Rescue. The whole day gives local people a chance to get a better insight into the role the police and fire play in keeping them safe and find out how they can get involved. I’m under no illusion as to how much hard work goes into organising such a fantastic and memorable event, and I want to thank to the teams who helped organise this year’s Open Day.

You might have heard BBC Radio 4’s behind the scenes report about Avon and Somerset’s new youth diversionary activity organised by Youth Strategy Officer PC Kris Withers. Designed to inspire young people at risk of school exclusion, struggling with difficulties at home or already involved with anti-social behaviour, the ‘Insights Programme’ is an immersive experience that involves the students becoming detectives for a week. As part of the programme, students witnessed a mock trauma emergency at Southmead Hospital, attended a mock court trial at UWE overseen by Judge Mark Horton and heard first-hand the impact that knife crime can have on physical and mental health as well as your family life.

Students were faced with the harsh realities of knife crime and, now they have a better understanding of the serious nature of such assaults, will hopefully be encouraged to take a different and more positive path. After meeting the students on the last day of the programme, I am sure that the experience will have a lasting impact on each one of these young people’s lives.

The programme is a brilliant example of innovative partnership working to tackle serious violence. As I’ve said before, the police, health, education and the Criminal Justice System need to come together to educate the seriousness of violent crime – it is not an issue that the police can solve on their own. We need a coordinated approach such as this programme to deter young people from getting involved in knife crime and gangs, and support them to take a different route.

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