Wokingham Borough Council would like to hear from as many residents as possible to inform its new serious violence survey.
The council and its community safety partners are devising a long-term strategy, which aims to reduce and prevent serious violence and make the borough a safer place to live.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which has been approved by the House of Lords and Commons, includes a duty on serious violence.
The Bill is only awaiting royal assent before it becomes law and this would place a statutory duty on local authorities to prevent and reduce serious violence. The council must produce evidence-based analysis on the problems with serious violence and then a strategy detailing how it will respond.
It is crucial that people of a variety of ages and from different backgrounds complete the survey, as this will give the council an informed assessment of where to focus its efforts.
The consultation survey will run from 14 March to 22 April and is available via the council’s online platform, Engage Wokingham Borough.
Serious violence refers to any incident of violence or crime against another person when a weapon is used. It also refers to an assault when a person is badly injured, as well as criminal activity linked to the sale of drugs and criminal gang activity that could lead to violence.
The survey asks residents if they feel levels of serious violence have risen in the last year and what they think the causes might be. It also asks if there are particular areas they feel are unsafe and what could be done to address this.
The consequences of serious violence
Cllr Bill Soane, executive member for neighbourhood and communities, said: “Wokingham Borough is a safe place and has one of the lowest crime rates in the country. Therefore, although you may not have been directly affected by serious violence, it is vital that we gauge how communities feel and what we can do to overcome any issues raised.
“Serious violence can have potentially devastating consequences and the actions we take from this survey will attempt to prevent these unacceptable crimes from taking place.”
Addressing serious violence is also a key priority of the Wokingham Community Safety Partnership, which comprises a selection of partner agencies. With co-operation from key partners, such as Thames Valley Police and Wokingham Youth Offending Service, the council will take a holistic approach to understand the causes and consequences of serious violence.
A focus will be placed on early intervention, along with educating people and raising awareness of violence prevention. There is also a desire to reduce the number of people carrying and using knives and offer support to those already involved in serious violence.
It is important for the council to understand the risks around knife crime and reduce incidents, particularly those linked to public spaces, gangs and county lines drug dealing.
The survey is available to view here.
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