Avon and Somerset Chief Constable Sarah Crew has given her support to our local campaign to tackle knife crime- Together for Change. Bristol Live and Bristol Post have joined forces with others to respond to the devastating impact knife crime has had on our city since the start of 2024.

The campaign launched earlier this year has seen the local media uniting in solidarity against knife crime and speaking as one voice alongside charity’s and city leaders who have pledged their support for the campaign. While the police have a role to play in dealing with murders, homicides and serious assaults, like others in our society, officers can work with others in preventative work.

Speaking to Bristol Live the local police chief said: “We want to support anything that brings people together, particularly the adults in our society to come together and do something meaningful for the young people. The police have a role to play, the role we’re playing at the moment in our major investigation teams is dealing with murders and homicides and serious assaults but we don’t want to be doing that.

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“Stop and search can be divisive; some people support it and want more of it and some people don’t want it at all. We have to balance that but we don’t want to be doing heavy enforcement, we want to engage with people and create an environment where they don’t feel that it’s so unsafe that they feel they have to carry a knife.

“The campaign in bringing civil society and communities together, yes absolutely, we want to be part of that. Policing is dealing with the symptoms of this problem but it’s really important that we get to the root causes and we’ll play our part in that.”

Together For Change Aims

Set up a task force – We will develop a community-driven task force to meet and discuss the issue, how best to tackle it and how we can make a real difference with those in power.

Getting knives off the street – We will work with the campaigners to raise awareness of initiatives designed to get knives off the streets.

Social media – We will look at the Online Safety Bill and see if it goes far enough where it comes to harmful knife-related content on social media and how easy it is for children to see.

Raise awareness – We will work together to raise the awareness of how knife crime is linked to poverty, education, employment, social exclusion and the collapse in youth services

Lobby the government -We will cover the issue in the context of the General Election, using our findings from the taskforce and our reporting to lobby for change

Hold power to account – We will scrutinise and hold Avon and Somerset Police and Bristol City Council to account on their plans and models to make Bristol safer

In reference to more work around prevention, she added: “Early intervention and prevention is absolutely at the core of policing. We have got to balance responding to things that are often emergencies and doing that consistently and well.

“At the same time, we need to save the maximum amount of time and energy and resources in problem solving and proactive policing so officers can be there in communities and having that sense of presence so officers can stop things and deter things. That doesn’t necessarily mean doing stop and search.

“If I had three times the resources that I’ve got, it would be great but it still wouldn’t meet all of the demands. We are getting back to the numbers we had but not fully.

“Over the last four years we’ve had massive recruitment. At the moment we are very inexperienced which is a massive opportunity.

“There are people that are coming into policing, who are fresh with the right ideas, the right training. At the moment they are learning and we are dealing with that inexperience.

“I’d like more officers but it is really about the balance of how many are responding to the emergency incidents happening and how many can I save to do the prevention, to do the problem solving, to do the early intervention.

“The actual commitment is to move more and more into the latter so that you have less demand coming through the front door. It’s only when you have that trust that people give you that information which means you can intervene early and be proactive.

“Sometimes people who are exploiting others in our community are actually exploiting the lack of trust between the police and the community that undermines us having that information. My commitment as chief is to get as far into prevention and early intervention and working with communities together to solve problems as much as we can, as well as meet the requirement that when somebody calls us and they need us we get there too.”