Posted: Friday 19th June 2020
As coronavirus restrictions continue to be lifted, this week we have seen non-essential shops reopening and the introduction of social support bubbles for those living alone in England. Thanks to the efforts of local people, officers have rarely had to enforce Government regulations and I want to say a massive thank you to our communities for playing their part and following guidance.
It’s important to remember that the pandemic is ongoing and the virus still poses a risk. Personal responsibility will continue to be key over the coming months and, for those leaving their homes, please think carefully about where you are going and if you will be able to keep your distance from others. We need to ensure that our return to ‘normal’ life is a gradual and sensible process and our efforts from the last few months do not go to waste.
This week, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), local authorities and partners are supporting ‘Stop Adult Abuse Week.’ The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the crimes that victimise older people in our communities including fraud, domestic abuse and county lines.
Any form of abuse is completely unacceptable and it fills me with sadness and horror to think such cruelty happens to members of our elderly community. Some elderly people have been shielding due to coronavirus, making them even more vulnerable to criminals who want to take advantage. If you think an elderly friend, neighbour or relative is being subjected to domestic abuse, fraud or cuckooing, I would encourage you to have courage, act now and report it.
It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure vulnerable adults in our communities are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. Help and support is out there for all victims of crime, no matter how long ago the crime took place and if they report it to the police.
Finally, I want to talk a bit about the use of force in policing as there has been lots of news, in our local media and nationally, about how police services rank in use of tactics like Taser deployment.
Whenever officers use force including Taser use, it is subject to extremely high levels of scrutiny and, thanks to Body Worn Video (BWV), officers are rightly held to an even greater level of accountability. This is a matter that my office and I scrutinise carefully and one way this is done is through the Scrutiny of Police Powers Panel (SOPP); back in 2017, I asked local people from a range of diverse backgrounds to form the SOPP and the independent panel meet regularly to review BWV, scrutinise the police’s use of force and evaluate if proportionate actions were taken. The panel provide feedback and recommended changes to the police and provide from a local person’s perspective.
I am always seeking assurances from the Chief Constable about the numerous measures Avon and Somerset Police are taking to ensure use of force is proportionate and only used when necessary. This includes a particular focus on the disproportionality that affects people from our BAME communities. In my most recent Facebook Live with the Chief Constable, we discussed Taser use and the measures in place to ensure use is proportionate. Head to www.avonandsomerset-pcc.gov.uk to watch the webchat.
Until next time, remember to have compassion, look out for one another and stay safe.