Students seek partnership pledge on knife crime from PCC candidates at Youth Accountability Assembly

Students from across the Cabot Learning Federation were given a unique insight into the worlds of policing, politics and public safety in a community assembly attended by the four candidates to be the next Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset.

Bristol’s City Academy played host to the Avon and Somerset Youth Accountability Assembly, an event carefully organised by Citizens Somerset and Citizens Southwest, the local alliances of Citizens UK.

The event saw students from Bristol, Weston-super-Mare and Somerset – representing schools including Hanham Woods Academy, CLF Post 16, and Broadoak Academy – join other regional civil society organisations in putting questions to the PCC candidates.

The agenda had been carefully crafted over 12 months and featured a number of detailed asks they were seeking candidates’ commitment on as part of their ambitions for policing in the region.

Benet Allen (Liberal Democrats), Katy Grant (Green Party), Clare Moody (Labour and Co-operative Party) and Mark Shelford (Conservative Party) will all be hoping to top the ballot when voters head to the polls on Thursday.

But first they were invited to participate in an event seeking to reshape democracy in the region by placing people’s stories at the heart of how future policy can be formulated.

The Citizens UK initiative was designed to help foster closer ties between the candidates and the region’s young people, celebrate past achievements in improving the safety of our streets, and secure public commitments on future initiatives.

Candidates were asked to pledge support for initiatives to tackle knife crime, work with schools to encourage crime reporting, ringfence funding for youth diversionary activities, and help to reduce poverty by creating a Living Wage region in Avon and Somerset.

These actions form part of a ‘citizens’ agenda for change’ proposed by Citizens Somerset and the developing alliance in Bristol, which believes unified community action is vital to help overcome issues such as knife crime and street violence.

Carina Crawford Khan, Assistant Director at Citizens UK, said: “The assembly is an exciting opportunity to reimagine what politics could look like across Avon and Somerset when we are able to bring communities and decision makers together for the common good.

“We are all concerned about the recent rise in violence in our communities and recognise that anger without power can lead to rage. Sometimes fear can lead us to retreat. But through community organising, we are building power to create a vehicle for change and offer hope that things can be different and we can find solutions to tackle this issue.”

Sally Apps, Executive Principal of the Cabot Learning Federation, said: “The voices and views of our children are critical to creating a safer community now and in the future; working with Citizens UK as part of our wider Voice strategy has enabled our children to be taken seriously and to be a powerful force for change.”

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