Recently, Chief Constable Sarah Crew made an announcement regarding institutional racism in Avon and Somerset Police.
This is about vital work to change the culture of policing following the results of many reviews and reports, including those conducted by Macpherson and Casey, which also looks at wider issues of misogyny, homophobia and general police conduct and standards.
Culture change is not something that happens overnight; it takes a minimum of five to 10 years and involves looking at many areas within the service. This includes improving our vetting and selection processes, retention, and progression of staff, how police complaints are handled and, crucially, the training given to the workforce within the wider police family.
I have let the Chief Constable know I support her and have full confidence in her leadership.
This is a challenging issue to face. However, through initiating and continuing these uncomfortable and difficult conversations, the Chief Constable is demonstrating openness, courage and willingness to be held accountable by the communities that she and our police officers and staff serve.
It’s important to note that institutional racism is not just about policing alone. Policing is one element of the criminal justice process and, as the chair of the Local Criminal Justice Board, this is about our joint work with the wider Criminal Justice System (CJS) agencies like the Crown Prosecution Service, Courts, Prisons and Probation to tackle racial disproportionality within our respective organisations. Such work is already underway with the recommendations in the Identifying Disproportionality in the Avon and Somerset Criminal Justice System.
I will continue to update you on this area of work and, as your PCC, support the scrutiny and accountability of the Chief Constable on these issues as Avon and Somerset Police continues towards its vision to deliver outstanding policing for all of our communities.
Recently, I have been out and about talking to local businesses about their police and crime concerns and, as part of this work, I joined the virtual Business Crime Forum for Avon and Somerset.
The Business Crime Forum for Avon and Somerset was set up to ensure there is an open dialogue between Avon and Somerset Police, business crime reduction partnerships and business groups to help reduce crime against local businesses.
As part of the most recent meeting, concerns were raised from the retail community regarding anti-social behaviour, theft and even intimidation. From feedback, I know many people do not report when such incidents happen as they do not want to waste police time.
However, the policing service needs to be aware of when and where such issues are taking place to make a positive, proactive impact and make our communities safer.
I encourage you to please report when crime happens either by dialling 999 in an emergency or, for non-emergencies, by calling 101 or reporting online.
Last month, I visited Bath and met with the local B&NES Neighbourhood Policing Team and CrimeStoppers to support their current cannabis cultivation awareness campaign. The campaign aims to highlight the harm and exploitation of drug and associated crimes has on vulnerable individuals and the wider community.
I then had a tour of Bath City Farm to learn about their facilities and offer to local community members including team-building activities and volunteering opportunities.
Earlier this year, the Farm received a grant from the Commissioner’s Crime Prevention Fund to support extensive CCTV to not only deter criminal activity but enable the Farm the ability to identify those committing vandalism and crime on the farm site.
I would highly recommend a visit to their lovely farm whilst the weather is still great.