Posted: Monday 19th June 2017
It’s hard to believe that we are all talking about the loss of precious life in this country once again. My thoughts and prayers this week have been with all the people caught up in the Grenfell Tower fire.
To say it’s been testing times I feel would be a real understatement. Between the multiple terror attacks across the country to this week’s horrific fire, our emergency services have been truly pushed to their limits and have done us proud. They’ve showing strength, resilience and the upmost professionalism against such adversity.
Our public services are clearly reaching their limits and policing is no exception. The extraordinary events of the past few weeks have thrown a sharp focus on the very demanding security context in which we are operating. These are challenging times in policing, with crime and the demands for services changing at a faster rate than ever before, and all against a backdrop of a reducing workforce.
In Avon and Somerset over £52million of required savings has been made and as a consequence we have 750 fewer police officers on our streets. Going forward the Chief Constable and I are doing all we can to preserve frontline policing at its current level, including our PCSO’s who are fundamental to neighbourhood policing, and a crucial asset in local intelligence gathering to counter terrorism. London and Manchester represent a profound moment in policing and security, which requires us to reflect on what needs doing to keep local people safe particularly across the counter terrorism strategy.
Long term solutions to these challenges can only be found by having strong and responsive neighbourhood policing but it is also important that additional funding is available for firearms officers as well as capital investment to continue to transform policing to meet the changing threat. This is something the Chief Constable and I will be working on with our local MPs, the Home Office and national organisations over the coming weeks.
During such adversity we really do see the best of people and I take heart from those communities who pull together. Whether that is the countless people who donated items in London or local residents who are supporting the Big Lunch this weekend, in memory of murdered MP Jo Cox.
This week I took part in the Great Big Walk, organised by the Eden Project who are also responsible for the Big Lunch. The walk started in Jo’s constituency in Batley, Yorkshire, and one team of walkers travelled through Avon and Somerset. The walk aimed to improve the happiness and wellbeing of people across the UK by helping to build more resilient and better connected communities. Last Saturday my team joined residents, police officers and PCSO’s at Symes community centre, Hartcliffe, hosting their very our own Big Lunch. This was the perfect opportunity to bring people together to celebrate their local community and to take the time to sit, eat and chat to their neighbours. We know that hate crime and other anti-social behaviours are less likely to be tolerated in communities that are united and I can think of no better way to honour the memory of Jo Cox MP and her belief’s that we have far more in common than that which divides us.