Posted: Friday 10th January 2020
Firstly, I would like to start by wishing you all a happy New Year. With the arrival of 2020, my team are looking ahead to May’s PCC elections, which brings me on to my own news; after two exciting, challenging and productive terms as an independent PCC, I have decided I will not put myself forward for re-election.
I make this decision with mixed emotions but absolute conviction that after eight years of working with the police and key partners, this is the right decision for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), Constabulary and, most importantly, local people.
I feel fortunate enough to have been part of decisions and projects that have found solutions and pushed boundaries of innovation in the Constabulary and within shared work with our partners in the criminal justice system, local authorities, health service, charities, community groups, businesses and local residents.
Please be assured that neither the Constabulary, the OPCC nor I will be taking our foot off the pedal between now and the elections. I am still your PCC until May and I will be doing everything I can to push forward crucial policing matters to improve the lives of people in our communities.
One area of work that needs continued focus, drive and innovation are the Violence Reduction Units (VRUs). Set up last September, the VRUs are made of our five local authorities, education, police, clinical commission groups, public health departments, charities and community groups.
We initially received £1.16m to set up the VRU and the Government has just announced Avon and Somerset will receive a further £1.16m to tackle serious violence among young people in our communities.
This additional funding allows us to continue building on the public health approach to tackling the root causes of these terrible offences that have a devastating impact on victims, perpetrators, their families and entire communities. We need to be identifying and providing interventions for young people at a much earlier stage and make them feel part of a society to which they want to contribute in order to stop them from taking the wrong path.
As I’ve said before, we cannot ‘police’ our way out of this issue and sustainability is going to be key for the VRUs. We all need to be working together to stop young lives being lost or wasted because of serious violence.
It is important to be clear this is not a quick fix and taking this bigger picture approach, which is widely recognised by all partners as the only way to tackle it effectively, is going to need commitment and long term investment. I will continue to update you over the coming months on the initiatives that are being rolled out for young people who are at risk of becoming involved in knife crime or being victims.