Last Friday (5th January), PCC Mark Shelford visited a local charity in Bath, local community groups and elected leaders in Yeovil, South Somerset to understand policing and crime concerns and how communities are working together to support people in the area as part of his weekly Friday Engagement visits.
The PCC started the day by visiting VOICES Charity in Bath where he met with staff, trustees, and a woman with lived experience of domestic abuse. VOICES is a charity founded by women with lived experience, dedicated to providing recovery support and advocacy for people affected by domestic abuse. VOICES is also a platform which enables the voices of people with lived experience of domestic abuse to inform and improve service provision, in response to their needs.
In 2002, VOICES received some funding from the OPCC through the Ministry of Justice Domestic Abuse Uplift Fund, to support its gateway service to ensure victims in BANES have universal access to the whole picture domestic abuse support in the county, and to mitigate the challenges for victims who experience barriers to disclosure and accessing support. In the last financial year (April 2022-March 2023) VOICES received 101 new referrals and supported 134 victims during this period.
From the VOICES project in Bath, the PCC drove to Yeovil where he met with Marcus FYSH MP. They discussed local crime issues in particular, shoplifting, anti-social behaviour, and together with Marcus FYSH MP, the PCC had the opportunity to walk through the High Street and saw the construction going on.
Following this, the PCC also visited Friends of Sidney Gardens where he met with the group’s representatives who raised concerns about safety and ASB issues in the park. Assistant Inspector Roseanna Green joined the discussion. They discussed ways on how the community can collaborate with the police to address the challenges.
The PCC finished the day by visiting Yeovil Crime Reduction Team (YCRT) where he met with Gareth Williams and Team. YCRT is a not-for-profit organisation working together with other community groups to reduce retail and anti-social behaviour in the south Somerset area. Its goal is to achieve a safer community for all. Gareth Williams, who runs YCRT raised concerns around the increase in shoplifting and repeat offenders. And some challenges when reporting a crime.
Commenting on the visits, the PCC Mark Shelford said: “I was pleased to hear how local organisations, and local community make effort to work together to tackle local issues and support people. I have heard concerns raised and with our partners we can work together to reduce crime, ASB and keep communities safe.”