Last week's knife crime awareness campaign Op Sceptre not only spotlighted the good work being carried out by Wiltshire Police to reduce these crimes but also highlighted the general rise in serious violence in Britain.
Thankfully here in Wiltshire we don't have the level of violent crime experienced in the big cities and towns across the UK; Wiltshire is a relatively safe county, but we still suffer the same social issues that the larger conurbations do - poverty and illegal drugs - which can result in a rise in violent crime.
The increase in County Lines - where drugs gangs come into Wiltshire and Swindon and coerce vulnerable young people to push their illegal drugs - shows that our county is not immune.
Yesterday (19/03), I attended a roundtable meeting at Westminster with the Policing Minister Nick Hurd and the Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability Victoria Atkins along with PCCs from across the country to discuss the rise in violent crime we are all seeing.
It followed on from the government announcement last week that seven police forces would receive additional money to fight knife crime.
Unfortunately Wiltshire isn't one of those; however I argued the point at this meeting that the so-called 'ripple' effect, where criminals are often displaced to other more rural areas like our county, happens. County Lines is a good example of violent crime spreading from the larger cities.
I raised the point at the meeting that Wiltshire and Swindon also need financial support to combat violent crime. The increase in the policing precept will go some way to help with resources but rest assured I continue to lobby the government for more money; money needed if we are to adequately protect our county.
The Serious Violence Strategy, launched by government last June, highlighted how the police can strengthen law enforcement but also how Police and Crime Commissioners can galvanise prevention and early intervention to head off problems before they even reach the attention of the police.
PCCs play a vital role in coordinating properly resourced action with partners across a range of areas, including youth services, public health and schools, to tackle the issues in our communities.
In Wiltshire and Swindon I support and commission a number of services which help with intervention and prevention around violent crime, including:
· Financial support for knife awareness training for key workers which includes Youth Offending Team staff.
· Organised Crime Partnership Board - multi-agency panel coming together to harness expert knowledge to support and help the police fight the high end of criminality by targeting organised crime gangs.
· Chair the Wiltshire Criminal Justice Board which brings together agencies like the prison service, local councils and the courts to deliver criminal justice services across our area.
This vital work by my office and other PCCs often goes unnoticed because a lot of it is not visible and the positive results can come much later; however, it is as important as the more publically visible reactive law enforcement work.
The meeting at Westminster was an opportunity for me to explain what action I am taking to help tackle serious violence in Wiltshire and Swindon accompanied by my consistant message that we cannot work alone and government support is needed if we are serious about tackling serious violent crime.