Somerset remains a safe place to live

Somerset remains a safe place to live, but like many areas of the UK , there are locations that experience higher levels of concerns around violence. These are sometimes known as hotspots.

Most violence in these areas will involve adults. Incidents affecting young people in Somerset remain comparatively low, but it is important to take steps to improve safeguarding and reduce the risk of harm.

Why town centres are a concern

Town centres are busy locations with high numbers of people drawn in to socialise, visit retail stores and food outlets. These may also be close to adults visiting pubs, clubs and restaurants (this hasn’t been shown to be part of the issue). Groups congregating in these locations can be a contributing factor towards conflict and then in some cases violence.

Violence is any behaviour by someone that intentionally threatens to or does cause physical or psychological harm to someone else or themselves. This can happen in person or online.

Types of violence that affect young people

A recent national survey by the Youth Endowment Fund reports that 16% of young people have said they had been a victim of violence in the past 12 months. Even more (44%) had said they had witnessed violence in the past 12-months.

You can read the children, violence and vulnerability 2023 summary on the Youth Endowment Fund website.

What our young residents say

In Autumn 2023, Somerset Violence Reduction Partnership surveyed over 1300 children and young people who visit Taunton and Bridgwater town centres.

They told us that young people do not always feel safe in our town centres and less than 1 in 5 young people would report an incident to the police if they saw a violent incident.

Most young people said they do feel they need more information about safety and would most want that to come from their school, parent or guardian or the police.

Youth Hubs

The Violence Reduction Partnership as part of the Highlight Scheme have set up Youth Hubs with Young Somerset in both Bridgwater and Taunton.

  • The Bridgwater Hub is run from 4pm to 6pm on Fridays in Coffee#1, Fore Street.
  • The Taunton Hub is run from 3pm to 5pm on Saturdays in McDonalds, East Street.

The hubs are part of a series of initiatives being put in place in response to young people asking for more information and advice about safety and also how to access youth provision. Young people and parents or guardians can visit a Hub whilst in town and find out more.

Advice for parents

Its normal and healthy for young people to want to meet friends, be social and feel part of the community.

No young person should feel unsafe whilst visiting Somerset’s town centres. But it can help to talk to young people about how to recognise and respond to situations that may affect themselves or others.

Spot the signs

Young people may see or hear behaviour that is not okay, but don’t know what risks or harm may be caused by that behaviour. Talk to your children about what types of situations may cause someone harm.

Distance themselves

Help a young person make a plan of what to say and do to safely avoid or leave a situation before it escalates. Having a plan of how to leave a situation that is making them feel uncomfortable or appears to be escalating can help protect them from harm.

Tell someone

When it looks like everyone else is okay, it is not easy for young people to speak out, or see there is a risk to themselves or other people. Young people need to know they don’t have to manage everything on their own. Encourage them to discuss their concerns with a trusted adult.

It can be hard for anyone to talk about worries, but it is extra hard when children are shy or if they are being bullied into keeping quiet. Children do not always know who to trust or how to start a conversation.

Further guidance

Advice for young people

Its normal and healthy for young people to want to meet friends, be social and feel part of the community.

No one should feel unsafe whilst visiting Somerset’s town centres, but its always good to be prepared and consider your personal safety. You can talk to a trusted adult about these 3 simple steps.

Spotting the signs

You may see or hear behaviour that is not okay and be unsure what risks or harm may be caused by that behaviour. You may just have a gut feeling something does not feel safe for yourself or others. It might be what they are saying, doing or their body language.

Distance yourself

If a situation is becoming uncomfortable for you or another person, always have a plan in mind of how to get away from the situation. This is so that you can safely avoid or leave before anything escalates. Some people agree a text a “code word” to send an older sibling, parent or guardian so they know to call or come and collect you. Never be afraid to walk away.

Tell someone

When it looks like everyone else is okay, it’s not easy to speak out or see there is a risk to you or other people. You might go into a shop, restaurant or business and ask for help or phone a trusted adult.

It can be hard for anyone to talk about worries, but it is extra hard if children or young people are shy or if they are being bullied into keeping quiet. If you cannot tell an adult you trust then you find further support online at:

You can also find information about managing conflict at:

Reporting concerns

Phone 999 immediately if there is an immediate risk to life or incident involving a weapon.

If someone is in immediate danger and there are weapons such as knives involved, call 999. Otherwise crimes can be reported by phoning 101 or online.

Ways to report online

Last reviewed: February 15, 2024 by Qi

Next review due: August 15, 2024

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