I hope that you all had a peaceful festive period and happy New Year.
December was typically busy and saw the national policing budget announcement which, after delays, was finally released on 13th December.
The Government have made it clear that to meet increasing demands on policing, and mitigate the impact of eight years of their funding cuts, they expect PCCs to increase the police precept by the maximum amount, £24 on a band D property, which accounts for more than half (£500m plus) of what was announced in the national policing settlement.
Since 2010 we have faced budget cuts of over £140m at a time when demand for policing and the complexity of work has significantly increased.
Areas such as West Yorkshire have faced a greater proportion of their budgets being cut due to lower levels of council tax precept and how funding is distributed through the national formula.
Over the last two years, I have started to help rebuild frontline policing with West Yorkshire Police through the help of local tax payers, as the public have made clear to me that they want this area of policing to be strengthened.
To continue to enable West Yorkshire Police to have more capacity to face threats such as Violent Crime, Human Trafficking, Cyber Crime and Sexual Exploitation, and to tackle the increasing demands for safeguarding vulnerable people, I will have little choice, but to look to increase the Policing element of the Council Tax for 2019/20.
In West Yorkshire that would mean Police council tax increasing by £24 a year or just under 50p a week for a band ‘D’ council taxpayer, although in reality most people would pay less on average, with the majority being in bands A to C.
These increases on the policing precept in West Yorkshire would still mean that local people are paying less than neighbouring forces as we have the 3rd lowest Police precept in England and Wales.
However, before shaping my final proposal on the local policing precept and budget, I want to hear the views of the public and have therefore launched an online survey and a limited postal survey, which will form part of the regular planned ‘Your Views’ feedback.
Running until 5pm on 16th January 2019, it asks communities how they would like to see money raised for the police part of the local council tax, called the ‘precept’.
To complete the survey please visit https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/PreceptConsultation/
December also saw two videos, funded by my Safer Communities Fund (recovered proceeds of crime money), highlighting the impact of staying out late without telling family members where you are going.
This was distributed to young people across West Yorkshire in a bid to reduce incidents of young people being reported missing from home and potentially very vulnerable situations.
The videos have been jointly produced by West Yorkshire Police and the Leeds Safeguarding Children Partnership and feature case studies based on real-life missing person cases. They include the viewpoints of the young person reported missing, family members and a police officer.
The aim of the campaign is to encourage young people to seek help and support as an alternative to going missing. If a young person feels unable to talk to their parent or guardian, they are urged to talk to another trusted adult, whether that is another family member, family friend or teacher. There are also a number of helplines that offer free and confidential support and advice.
For more information about the campaign and useful contacts for both young people and their parents, please visit www.westyorkshire.police.uk/runningaway
I am continuing to raise awareness of domestic abuse and I brought together professionals from the NHS, Crown Prosecution Service, the Voluntary Sector, Education and Local Authorities last month to independently consider domestic abuse cases in the county.
The West Yorkshire Independent Domestic Scrutiny Panel is one part of an innovative ‘Whole Systems Approach’ to tackling domestic abuse.
This project, which involves 6 police forces from across the North East of England, follows a successful bid to the Home Office’s Police Transformation Fund.
It aims to test new ways to respond to domestic abuse, support victims, change behaviours of perpetrators and to improve knowledge and skills.
The panel, which meets 4 times a year, looks at previous cases, ensuring all the right practices and support mechanisms are in place to offer the best possible outcome for future victims. They also assess situations where a victim and their family need a service from another agency.
Looking forward over 2019, I will be continuing to work towards policing receiving the recognition it truly deserves from the Government, including the national funding formula being re-assessed which could result in much needed resources going back into policing our local communities as well as adding additional support to help our frontline officers and staff tackle crime and serious violence.
I am also looking to increase the emphasis on partnership working and enable more people to benefit from the Restorative Justice Programme and Victim Support service which I commission, and for greater awareness in tackling the scourge of Modern Day Slavery and Human Trafficking.