Celebrating the people who keep our communities safe
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens writes on law and order issues facing our area.
This month, we celebrated the men, women and teams who go above and beyond to keep our communities safe at this year’s Be Proud Awards. The awards evening is my favourite night of the year and it is a privilege to be in the same room with so many inspirational, selfless and dedicated individuals.
I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who took the time to send in nominations as the awards give us the opportunity to celebrate our policing heroes for their efforts. To our finalists, winners and everyone who was nominated I would like to wish you a massive well done and thank you for all that you do.
We also showed our support for World Elder Abuse awareness day and asked local communities to recognise the value older people bring to our communities. The awareness day focuses on the problem of physical, emotional and financial abuse of older people as sadly there are a growing number of criminals who seek to take advantages of our senior community.
Older people can be more vulnerable to cons, frauds, doorstep crime and distraction burglary and there are individuals out there who exploit the fragility that comes with older age. So I was delighted to see a new Avon and Somerset Police initiative that hopes to tackle isolation within the older the community, the ‘Chat Bench.’
The ‘Chat Bench’ is a very simple concept where a sign is placed on a bench, typically in a park or town centre that encourages those using the bench to have a chat with each other. I hope it encourages people of all ages to start more conversations as we need to remember that a simple ”hello” could make a big difference to someone’s day.
I will also be supporting the National Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Honour Based Violence on 14 July. The awareness day was set up by the charity Karma Nirvana following the tragic death of Shafilea Ahmend in 2003 and remembers the men and women affected by so-called ‘honour’ killings and honour-based abuse.
Forced marriage and honour-base violence are particularly difficult crimes to tackle as much tends to go on behind closed doors and victims are scared to come forward. The victims are sadly at risk from those closest to them – their families and relatives. There is no honour in crimes that cause suffering and in Avon and Somerset we will continue to work closely with affected communities and our partners across health, education, social care and the voluntary sector. I hope on awareness days like this we encourage victims and survivors to come forward and report these crimes to us.