With the current national debate on the rise of knife crime, and with the press full of stories of violence, I understand that people may be concerned about safety here in their local area.
I understand this concern personally as a parent, grandfather and with vulnerable older members in my family. These are challenging times, not for the first or last time. As your Police and Crime Commissioner, I have empathy and common purpose with others seeking to keep individuals, families and our communities SAFER.
In the longer term, our safety will be most effectively delivered by inclusive communities, as exist in numbers across our area, that reject violence, drugs that harm, and behaviours that are antisocial and threatening. Many people will have heard of the progress in Glasgow in relation to knife crime – and there was and remains good progress – but we must not forget that this progress took ten years or more of commitment by the agencies involved across all sectors of society to achieve.
Policing must play its part, alongside community safety, health, education, youth support, and the wider criminal justice system. It is just as much about tackling the root causes of crime as tackling crime and its consequences. Strengthening local communities, supporting the vulnerable and protecting them from exploitation by organised crime networks, these will go a long way in keeping us and our communities SAFER.
In the shorter term, there are things that we can all do – being alert, reporting risks that we see or experience, supporting those in our communities who we know are vulnerable and need added attention. It could save lives.
The Constabulary is already active and fully linked in with Operation Sceptre, the national police response to knife crime. A nationwide week of action this past week focused on reducing the knives being carried on the street through targeted investigations and stop & search activity, using detectors to sweep public spaces of knives and other sharp objects, and focused engagement work with local schools. Sharing intelligence and information about violent incidents with other emergency services and partner agencies is also crucial to tackling this within our communities.
What am I doing as your Police and Crime Commissioner? Beyond the work of the Constabulary, I continue to invest in a significant number of projects run by community safety partners aimed at working directly with those that are susceptible to being drawn into criminality, and which support the enforcement activity of the police by putting resources into early intervention and prevention, where they are most needed. In addition to the youth diversion projects I funded in last September’s funding round, I have just awarded more than £630,000 to further youth diversion projects that help young people to not get drawn into criminality.
My promise to you all is that I will continue to work to keep us all SAFER – you, your families and our communities.