As part of our lookback on the year that has passed, it is clear to see that the colder months had their ups and downs for Wiltshire. 

Following the death of Sir David Amess on October 15, the need for more safety for people in the public eye was brought to attention widely.

The nature of the event meant that it was not dissimilar to the murder of Jo Cox in 2016, which got the public as well as politicians questioning whether it was safe for MPs to be continuing without implementing safety measures.

In Devizes and surrounding Wiltshire areas, carrying personal alarms may be the new normal for MPs in the future, with town and county councillors issued with instructions which also told them to use a password to call for help, scream or think about their seating angles to identify if there were any heavy objects in the room.

READ MORE: Review of the year: Summer sees heatwave then refugee crisis

Councillors were instructed to invest in a handheld personal security alarm and to carry it with them on any visits to an electors’ home, where they are instructed to stand well back after knocking on the door and to check for any dogs or potential weapons before entering.

The advice stated: “Assess the situation and mood of the resident and note any other people in the property and their mood. If in any doubt or you feel threatened, do not enter, make an excuse and leave; back out rather than turning your back on the resident.”

COP26 was the focal point of the year for climate activists across the county.

Wiltshire’s efforts were well-and-truly represented at the conference, which featured two council projects; a collaborative project with Natural England called the Environmental Toolkit and the Salisbury River Park - a collaboration between the council and the Environment Agency with support from the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP).Wiltshire Times:

Cabinet member for climate change, Nick Botterill said: “We are serious about tackling climate change and biodiversity loss in Wiltshire, and it’s great that two of our environmental projects are going to be featured on the global stage at COP26.

“These projects help to show to the world what a difference we’re making in Wiltshire, while the event itself is an opportunity to remind us all of our duty to protect the natural environment and reduce carbon emissions.”

The continuing Covid pandemic made it even more important to shine a light on the issues which matter most in 2021. Concern rose over domestic violence figures released by the Office of National Statistics at the start of December. It showed that domestic abuse accounts for one in five crimes recorded by Wiltshire Police.

In a year where victims were trapped at home with their abusers, the force recorded a total of 14,237 domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes, meaning that there will be a long way to go before the effects of lockdown on the problem can be rectified.

Wiltshire Times: Domestic abuse feeling captured, by Eric WardDomestic abuse feeling captured, by Eric Ward

Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson said: “Whilst these statistics highlight the prevalence of domestic abuse in our county, I’m still not convinced they are a true reflection of how horrifying the situation really is.

“It is difficult enough for victims and survivors of domestic abuse to report, but this was compounded by the various lockdown restrictions meaning there will have been many more victims suffering in silence.

“That is why it’s so important to look past the statistics and my Police and Crime Plan will set a clear direction.”