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It’s time to ‘show kindness’

When I started on the campaign trail to become Police and Crime Commissioner, I was determined to get ‘out and about’ and to meet as many local people as I could.

When I started on the campaign trail to become Police and Crime Commissioner, I was determined to get ‘out and about’ and to meet as many local people as I could. I wanted to learn from our residents, our business owners, our communities, about the problems and challenges they were facing and how I could help.

Last Friday, Essex MP Sir David Amess lost his life doing exactly that – listening to his community, spending time with his constituents and trying to help them, as he had done for almost 40 years.

I join my colleagues from across the political spectrum in condemning his killing. Naturally, this heinous act has shocked the whole country and left many MPs and politicians feeling vulnerable and concerned for their own safety and questioning whether they still want to represent their communities in the way they do.

I don’t know whether there will be any significant changes to how an elected representative meets with their constituents. For me, it is a fundamental part of doing the job - to be able to meet face-to- face and listen to those who need your help - but I completely understand the concerns that many of my fellow colleagues have expressed over the last week.

Sadly, being a public figure has always carried an element of risk, indeed over 120 years ago, Queen Victoria had eight assassination attempts made upon her life whilst she was monarch. But it’s not just high-profile public figures who are ‘at risk’ from physical attack when doing their job.

Officers and staff have told me about some truly horrible incidents where they have been assaulted by the people they serve. It’s not uncommon for members of the emergency services to come under attack on a daily basis and in 2018, the Unacceptable campaign was launched to highlight the worrying trend of assaults on police, paramedics, firefighters and healthcare staff.

Last week, I was at the Police Bravery Awards when PC Roz Fricker was named South West Regional Winner. Roz, who was a probationary officer at the time of the incident, was badly injured as she tackled an aggressive man who was wielding a hammer and threatening members of the public.

What Roz did that day was quite simply remarkable and I can only commend her bravery in the decision she took to pursue her attacker, even after sustaining serious injury to ensure the safety of the public and her colleagues.

Every attack on a public servant, no matter what job they do, is an attack on our democracy and that must be challenged, and lessons must be learned. Since becoming PCC in May, I have learned is that it is incumbent upon me to find solutions with my political counterparts, to seek out what we share rather than what sets us apart, to listen, to try and understand and to be respectful of another’s point of view.

The family of Sir David have asked for people to ‘show kindness’ to one another. I would like to add to that by asking for us all, to be a little slower to judge, a little quicker to forgive and hold onto what binds us and holds us together. Dorset is a community, let’s defeat hate, build tolerance, and make it the safest of places to be.

David Sidwick

Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset

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