November 2018: Your Local MP
Keeping our communities safe
I WANT to offer my sincere condolences to the friends and family of Ronald Leigh who recently died following a violent attack in Fishponds. I hope the victim of the related assault makes a full recovery and that the people responsible are brought to justice.
This was obviously a very serious incident. Many of the criminal incidents brought to my attention, however, involve low-level crime and anti-social behaviour, committed by young people around school age. Often these kids are not hardened criminals but have had challenging childhoods, lacking structure, and commit crimes out of boredom. Some of them, however, then go on to commit more serious crimes. I am particularly concerned about young people becoming involved in gangs, knife crime and drug-dealing, including those caught up in so-called "county lines".
We should be doing everything we can to prevent young people becoming involved in criminal activity. Unfortunately, youth services have been cut significantly in recent years, and what remains is usually targeted at specific groups, robbing young people of valuable spaces and support.
Not only has the Government made drastic cuts to local authority funding, which force councils like Bristol to cut youth services, it has also chronically underfunded the police forces which serve to keep all of us - young and old - safe.
Since 2010, the Government has cut police funding by a fifth, and often the forces with the greatest levels of demand have had the greatest cuts. Avon and Somerset Constabulary now has 1,000 fewer officers than 10 years ago, and three of Britain’s most senior chief constables have warned of a fresh crisis in policing unless more funding is given.
I am petitioning the Government to increase funding for Avon and Somerset Constabulary, so they can recruit the extra officers they need to police our streets, prevent crime and protect our communities, and am pleased that over 1,000 constituents have added their signature to this petition.
You can’t keep Britain safe on the cheap, nor provide the other services that our communities need without adequate funding. I hope the chancellor will listen to these concerns and respond by announcing new funding for the police and for local authorities in the Government’s upcoming autumn budget.
I would encourage anyone with information relating to the attacks in Fishponds on October 9 to contact police via major incident public reporting site - www.mipp.police.uk. For all other non-emergency concerns about crime, residents should call 101 or contact their local neighbourhood team at www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/your-area