Posted: Friday 4th March 2016
Neighbourhood policing has become a fundamental cornerstone of British policing. Although it is a relatively new initiative in the history of policing it’s hard now to imagine a time without neighbourhood policing teams and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). Neighbourhood policing teams reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and tackle the issues that matter most to you. I am proud of how well our neighbourhood policing teams integrate with our communities and raise public confidence. I am also humbled every year at our Neighbourhood Policing Awards when we hear of the excellent work being carried out locally.
It’s our PCSOs that are usually most recognised and well regarded by residents, as they are often seen patrolling the community on foot or bicycle and really become the ‘eyes and ears’ of our local area. The role of a PCSO has changed over the last decade and while once they were seen as support they are now recognised as a valuable asset in cutting crime and reducing anti-social behaviour. With that comes growing responsibility and new powers. In Avon and Somerset our PCSOs will soon be using their new additional powers from the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to seize property, disperse people and to issue fixed penalty notices for a range of things for example cycling without lights. It’s clear that PCSOs make people feel safer in their communities and are closing the gap between crime and the fear of crime.
This week I attended a meeting with all the organisations involved in responding to domestic abuse such as councils, the police and charities. We came together to better understand the circumstances which lead to a violent domestic death and identify where responses to the situation could have been improved. Since it became law in 2011, there have been 19 Domestic Homicide Reviews in Avon and Somerset. We must not forget that behind every statistic is a person; maybe a mother, grandmother, brother or colleague, someone who was controlled, abused, isolated and in the end, not recognised before it was too late. We owe it to that victim, their family and our communities to make sure that the same opportunities are not missed again and that we truly learn and improve how we work together.
I have funded a report so we could learn from the common themes from Domestic Homicide Reviews and it’s clear that there are a number of things that we can do, that will make a difference, such as; coordinating campaign work highlighting domestic abuse, improve domestic abuse training for staff and health professionals as well as information sharing. We must make sure that everyone knows what to do to help victims of domestic abuse particularly family, friends and colleagues and I would urge everyone to look at the information available on www.thisisnotanexcuse.org
Next week, I will at the Colston Hall for Crimestoppers ‘What would you do?’ concert, which brings together safety advice for children and performing arts. Eight primary schools are taking part and it is a fantastic way to give children a voice to stop crime in their communities. As parents, carers, the police and the wider community we all have a responsibility for safeguarding young people and informing and educating them to the challenges that they may find themselves faced with in their lifetime.