“The vaccine roll-out across the country continues to be a phenomenal success and thank you again to the staff and volunteers who are ensuring as many people as possible are receiving injections.
“However, despite the brilliant roll-out of the jabs, it is important that we do not let our guard down during this time.
“As we enter spring, the days are becoming longer and we are starting to get bright weather and, as a result, there is a real temptation to flout the rules. Please don’t. The time will come when you can see friends and family, jump in the car and head on an adventure, but the time is not now.
“I know certain areas across Avon and Somerset were particularly busy last weekend due to the sunshine including Bristol Harbourside and Clevedon. There is nothing wrong with exercising outdoors but please think about where you are going to limit the numbers in any one area.
“Coronavirus remains a threat as seen by last week’s news of the Brazilian variant being present in South Gloucestershire and the need for surge testing in certain postcodes. By following the current restrictions, we ensure that any possible variants are not circulated in our communities and those who have not received their vaccines yet are protected.
“This coming Monday – 8th March – is the annual International Women’s Day and I am reflecting on the importance of supporting women in the Criminal Justice System to not only divert them away from the cycle of crime but to also prevent re-offending and keep communities safe.
“The causes of women’s offending is very complex for a myriad of reasons; often when women offend it is because there are no other life options to provide for their family as well as many of them being victims themselves of historic crimes.
“Such women often receive short-term sentences and, while there is a place for such sentences, the majority of the time short-term custodial sentences creates long-term issues such as lack of accommodation, loss of employment and issues regarding childcare. It is apparent that short-term sentences cause more harm than good and we need to question what handing out such sentences achieves.
“Instead we need to be providing the right interventions at the right time to help women stuck in a cycle of crime including understanding what causes them to offend, diverting them away from crime and supporting them when they leave prison.
“During my last term in office, reducing reoffending among women has been a key focus and I am proud to say that several dedicated services and pilots have been implemented to support women who find themselves stuck in the Criminal Justice System.
“In our fight to improve the lives of girls and women around the world, it is important we do not forget those women who might feel they do not have a voice or do not have a chance to change. Let’s give women in the Criminal Justice System the opportunity to change their lives around while, at the same time, making our communities a safer place to live and work.”