THE newly-elected chair of the Bridgwater Branch Labour Party has launched an attack on the Conservative’s new police bill, saying it leaves women ‘potentially more vulnerable’.
Irena Hubble-Brezowski said: “Over the last week two serious events have hit the headlines. Both have grave implications for the future of our society and how we deal with crime, misogyny and protest.
“Firstly the kidnapping and murder of a young woman, followed by the heavy handed policing of a vigil event for the victim on Clapham Common.
“Women feel concern about their safety and wish to express solidarity with each other and have been prevented from doing so.
“If Priti Patel’s Bill going through Parliament were to become law the implications for our safety do not improve. In fact we are potentially more vulnerable.
“This Bill is set to give police more powers and to criminalise protest, giving protestors a jail sentence of up to ten years for causing ‘annoyance’ or severe disruption – as happened with Extinction Rebellion protests last year.”
He said: “This is an area in which Avon & Somerset Police are particularly poor because despite the current PCC’s focus on victim support and domestic violence the performance of the police has deteriorated badly.
“In 2012 the number of violent and sexual offences reported to the police in Avon and Somerset was 17,968. Of those 8,388 were detected – a detection rate of 47%. (2012 was the year that the current Police and Crime Commissioner was first elected and appointed John Smith, her current deputy, as her Chief Executive Officer.)
“In 2019 (the last normal year before the pandemic struck) the number of violent and sexual offences had gone up to 47,656. Of those only 5,630 were detected – a detection rate of just 12%.
“These very poor results were due not only to the cuts imposed by the Tory and Coalition governments but also the strategies adopted in Avon & Somerset in relation to detective teams and specialisms, centralisation (the closing of police stations) and the diminution of local or community policing.
“The current Deputy PCC and candidate, John Smith was at the heart of those strategic changes.”