By Mark Burn Williamson
The Victims’ Code was introduced last year (2014) and I have already committed to putting victims and witnesses at the heart of everything we do.
The website, launched in October www.helpforvictims.co.uk is solely dedicated to victims and witnesses of crime and individuals can access all the information contained within the Victims’ Code and the Witness Charter as well as ask questions of trained advisors, access 400+ local support organisations and is translated into the five most spoken languages in Bradford and West Yorks.
We are hoping to roll that website out to other PCCs and police forces across England and Wales showing how we are leading the way in West Yorkshire.
2014 also saw the launch of my Safer Communities Fund, with 33 organisations in Bradford benefiting from £171,000 worth of proceeds of crime funding this year alone.
In 2015 the grant rounds start again and community/voluntary organisations can apply for funding demonstrating how their project meets the priorities in the Police and Crime Plan by visiting http://www.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/safer-communities-fund.aspx.
This year will also see the continued challenge of keeping our communities safer with ever shrinking resources and budgets and we will need to work ever closer with our partners in how we provide improved community safety services for people of West Yorkshire and the wider region, ensuring they are safer and feel safer.
Another big change in Bradford is looking at how our Neighbourhood Policing Teams work within the community. We have created co-located hubs in Bradford and Keighley, with officers/staff working alongside partners from Bradford Council and others sharing information and working together to ensure communities have a visible police presence and also have access to the appropriate services when they need them.
2014 has also seen a joint campaign around tackling Hate Crime so victims and witnesses know what it is and where they can go to for help.
Hate crime takes many forms including verbal abuse, harassment, threats, intimidation, physical abuse and vandalism. It can have both a devastating effect on a single victim but also the potential to divide communities.
You can report it by calling 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non-emergency, online at www.westyorkshire.police.uk/hatecrime or www.report-it.org.uk or in person at a police station.
Last year, I also created the West Yorkshire Anti Trafficking Network (WYATN) with the Hope for Justice charity to tackle this awful problem and provide support for victims and training for frontline workers to ensure we get this hidden problem out into the open and deal with perpetrators of this vile crime.
Looking ahead, 2015 will have its challenges. We are expecting more severe Government cuts with £167million of overall savings that have had to be found by 2016/17.
That is more than 30 per cent of the overall budget and means we have to continually find ways of working smarter and more efficiently. It is testament to officers and staff that frontline policing continues to deliver and significant investment in new mobile technology means officers are out on the beat more rather than in offices desk bound.
But with the cuts set continue, we will have to make some tough decisions around where the money is spent and resources focused.
My Community Conversations, where I am out and about meeting people and listening to what you have to say about policing and community safety in your area, gives you the opportunity to tell me your concerns and tell me where you want money to be spent.
I am your elected voice and want to hear from you. In the New Year, the webchats I hold monthly will be continuing, as will my public surgeries and meetings. For more information visit http://www.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk, email email@example.com, or call (01924) 294000.