Wiltshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson has said work to address the underlying causes of violence witnessed in Swindon this weekend is top of his, and the county's police force's, agenda.
Events over the weekend in Swindon has seen two communities marred by violence – a 33-year-old man was killed after a fatal stabbing in Gorse Hill yesterday (10th) and a house shot at in Toothill on Saturday.
The violence started just a day after the PCC visited neighbourhoods in Swindon to listen to growing community concerns around gang cultures, anti-social behaviour and drug dealing in the town.
Mr Wilkinson said: “Foremost, my thoughts are with the man’s family and friends at this traumatic time,” he said. “No one deserves to lose their life in this way.
“It has been a challenging and difficult time for all of the emergency service workers who responded to these incidents and they deserve praise for their professionalism.
“I have spoken with the Chief Constable and I know Wiltshire Police will do all they can to bring the victim’s killer or killers to justice.
"I know this will not make up for the loss of his life but I do hope it will bring some closure and comfort to his family and friends once this happens.”
Mr Wilkinson said he would update the town’s MPs, Justin Tomlinson and Robert Buckland, with the latest surrounding the investigations and would ensure they are kept updated in any community reassurance work in the coming days and weeks.
“Drawing together the work of the police, local authorities and agencies, my Police and Crime Plan will provide the leadership and coordination to prevent and tackle the problems that blight our lives.” Mr Wilkinson added.
“It is very easy to say, and much harder to do in practice, but helping the residents of Gorse Hill and Toothill to feel safe again will be top of my agenda.
“Extra patrols by Wiltshire Police will be a start, with the community helping feed in any intelligence they may pick up along the way.
“Anything you may hear that could help the police find those responsible must be handed over. No longer is it someone else’s responsibility: if you know something, tell us.”
Mr Wilkinson visited Eldene, Liden and Park South on Friday to discuss areas of anti-social behaviour, gang cultures and drug dealing.
He said he could see how a multi-agency approach of more community policing, better lighting in some areas and extra CCTV cameras could start to make a difference and he was determined to work with Swindon Borough Council, and other local agencies, to bring those issues to the fore.
“There does seem to be a growing concern among residents in all different parts of Swindon around crime and anti-social behaviour,” Mr Wilkinson added. “This weekend’s incidents will have only reinforced those concerns and I appreciate how those communities must be feeling now.
“I am determined to help and to push forward a multi-agency approach – only by looking at the problems holistically: causes, symptoms and consequences of anti-social behaviour and crime – will we start to make a difference and communities will start to feel safer.”
Wiltshire Police have arrested a man in connection with the shooting in Toothill. He remains in custody at this time on suspicion of conspiracy to murder.
A murder investigation into the 33-year-old man’s death is ongoing. No suspects have yet been arrested.
It is not thought the two incidents are linked in any way.
Image credit: Hedi Mehrez, Swindon Advertiser. Please do not use without permission.