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The PCC visits local community groups in Bristol South

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PCC Mark Shelford & Karin Smyth MP (in the middle) with Cooperative Food Store Managers on the right Arron Edmondson & Lucy Hitchock & Inspector Stuart King on the left.

Last Friday (6th October), the PCC Mark Shelford visited local community groups, businesses, and elected leaders in Bristol South to understand policing and crime concerns in the area as part of his weekly Friday Engagement initiative across the Avon and Somerset area.

The PCC started the day by meeting with Karin Smyth MP for Bristol South. They discussed local crime issues, anti-social behaviour, drug use, domestic violence, motorcycle crime, use of e-scooters and safety issues.

Despite the raised concerns, it was also pleasing to hear from Karin Smyth MP that Broadbury Road Police Station response was ‘excellent.’

Together with Karin Smyth MP, the PCC had the opportunity to walk along North Street in Bedminster. They met with Arron Edmondson and Lucy Hitchcock, both managers at the Cooperative Food Stores (Southern Co-op), North Street and Two Mile Hill.

Arron and Lucy raised concerns around the increasing incidents of shop lifting which is impacting on business and risk to the staff.

By coincidence while they were having their discussion at the back of the shop, a man came into the shop, and stole meat, and run away. With the assistance of Inspector Stuart King who was accompanying the PCC, he called the police, and they came to the shop immediately, however, the shop lifter had run away.

The incident highlights the scale of the problem faced by supermarkets and other businesses every week. Both Arron and Lucy expressed concern that it is often the same group of people involved in shop lifting, and it is hard to attribute such actions to the cost-of-living crisis.

To understand the wider community issues, support network, sources of information for residents and community connection for the BS3 neighbourhood, the PCC had a roundtable discussion with representatives of Action Greater Bedminster (AGB).

This session included Celia Phipps, Chair and Stef Brammar, Secretary of Action Greater Bedminster  the community partnership for Bedminster and Southville.

 They collaborate with local councillors, community groups, businesses, police, NHS, council departments and residents to improve its neighbourhood. A team of volunteers runs the organisation. AGB holds public meetings to discuss themes or projects and represents the community’s voice in other forums.

Following this, the PCC also made a courtesy visit to Broadbury Road Police Station, where he briefly met with Inspector Stephanie McKenna and other officers present.

The PCC then proceeded to Bristol Jamia Mosque where he met with the Mosque’s trustees and community members after their Friday prayers. Engaging with faith communities and leaders is important to reach out to diverse voices to seek their contribution to challenge policing and listening to policing concerns within these communities.

The PCC also told the faith leaders about job opportunities for young people within the police force in different departments e.g., cyber security.

The day was rounded off with a visit to Young Bristol’s BS14 Youth Club in Stockwood. Young Bristol is a charity providing critical out-of-school activities for young people 8-25 years in communities across the city.

The PCC met with Young Bristol’s Chief Executive, Lee Williams, Head of Operations, Andy Kimber and the Club’s Programmes and Youth Voice lead, Jason Beckhelling-Terry. They talked about the charity’s activities and their impact on the lives of young people and the community. The PCC had the opportunity to have a tour of the youth centre’s facilities, the newly transformed media suite, basketball court, gym, kitchen, and a welcoming space for all.

“I had the pleasure of meeting with Karin Smyth, Bristol South MP and heard anti-social behaviour, local crime issues, shop lifting, drug use and the reckless driving of e-scooters concerns in her constituency.

“I would like to provide reassurance to local residents that I have listened to these concerning issues and am working closely with the police and partners to explore ways in which we can address them.” – Mark Shelford