Tuesday, April 25, 2017
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Crime

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By Mark Burn Williamson

MBWThis New Year will see many developments in my role as Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for West Yorkshire including the potential roll out of our new Help for Victims website.

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 consultation@westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk, or call (01924) 294000.

 

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By Mark Burn Williamson

MBW

Helping victims of crime, tackling human trafficking and making more proceeds of crime funding available to our communities show the progress made by West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner two years on.

Protecting frontline policing, tackling Child Sex Exploitation, providing increased resources to prevent domestic abuse and reducing burglary across the county are just some of the key achievements since I was elected two years ago.

Since being elected I have been delivering on the outcomes, priorities and commitments as set out in West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Plan 2013-18 providing strategic direction for policing and community safety that Mark produced after extensive consultation with partners and engagement with communities from across the county.

I continue to work with the public and colleagues in communities to prevent crime, reduce crime, reoffending and antisocial behaviour, provide more support to victims and witnesses, tackle local, regional and national risks and harm, make sure the criminal justice system is more effective and efficient and that police and partners have more resources.

My progress to date also includes launching a ground breaking website solely dedicated to helping victims and witness of crime, ploughing more than half a million pounds into community organisations with the Safer Communities Fund from the proceeds of crime and creating a West Yorkshire Anti Trafficking Network with the charity Hope for Justice.

Over the past two years, up to June 2014, I have visited more than 270 community groups and organisations, receives around 100 pieces of casework monthly from members of the public, through the Listening to You First consultations and Public Satisfaction surveys has heard about what matters from 34,094 people and has provided a voice to the people of West Yorkshire.

As PCC for West Yorkshire I reflect back on the last two years in post and feel proud of what the OPCC and West Yorkshire Police, working with many other partners, have been able to deliver in such a short space of time, working together increasingly makes a real difference to the lives of people in our communities.

Tackling child sexual exploitation, working to get more Proceeds of Crime money back into the community, leading the way on identifying and tackling human trafficking and protecting Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPTs) are all part of the work I am committed to doing to ensure communities in West Yorkshire are safer and feel safer.

I have recently launched the Help for Victims website providing information and advice to victims and witnesses, with council leaders protected the level of PCSOs for two years and last week launched a Hate Crime campaign to raise awareness and encourage people who have been victims of hate crime to come forward and report it.

It’s important for me to continue to engage meaningfully with people living and working across the county and understand their priorities. Following on from my Listening to You First consultations, I have now started my Community Conversation to find out more about people’s concerns for policing and community safety and what matters to them.

The Safer Communities Fund which sees ill-gotten gains from Proceeds of Crime Act money handed back to communities affected by crime is currently in its fourth round and has already helped 123 community and voluntary groups, charities and other organisations with £567,000 of money donated so far in making a real difference in keeping communities safe and feeling safer across the county.

The Help for Victims website launched in October at www.helpforvictims.co.uk and this website will ensure victims and witnesses have access to all the knowledge they need to empower them to make informed decisions.

I have made five promises within my Police and Crime Plan to victims and witnesses including ensuring they get the high quality support and help they need, when they need it, in the way they need it from the right agency.

It is the only website with all these facilities in one place, that provides clear and concise advice to victims and witnesses who want to understand the criminal justice process and their rights, contained within the Victims’ Code.

There is also information for victims and witnesses to self refer to local organisations who can provide particular specialist victim and witness services beyond the website.

The last two years have certainly not been without their challenges and with severe and sustained Government cuts to the public sector, the policing budget has been slashed by almost 30 per cent. This puts a significant strain on already challenged public services, so it is crucial we continue to work better together to keep our communities safer.

drink-driving-leedsChristmas is generally a time for getting together with families and friends to celebrate the joy that the festive season brings. These celebrations mean parties, and parties generally mean alcohol. But sadly for some, this can lead to a greater temptation to drink and drive, which can mean fatal consequences – both for the driver of the vehicle and anyone involved in the resulting collision.

While recent research shows that attitudes have changed greatly towards drinking and driving over the decades, figures show that more than 2,000 people were convicted of drink or drug driving in West Yorkshire in 2012. And as you are reading this, West Yorkshire Police will have launched its seasonal campaign to crack down on those who choose to drink or take drugs, before getting behind the wheel of a car.

There are strict alcohol limits for UK drivers:

  • 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath
  • 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood
  • 107 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine

However, it is not possible to say how much alcohol you can drink and stay below the limit. Alcohol affects you depending on:

  • Your weight, age, sex and metabolism (the rate your body uses energy)
  • The type and amount of alcohol you drink
  • What you’ve eaten recently
  • Your stress levels

Penalties for drink driving include:

  • A minimum 12-month driving ban
  • A criminal record
  • A fine of up to £5,000
  • An endorsement on your licence for 11 years

Yet the consequences of drink driving can be far more wide ranging, including:

  • Increased car insurance costs
  • Job loss
  • Trouble getting into countries like the USA
  • Loss of independence
  • A prison sentence – causing death by dangerous driving carries a maximum sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment.

Hints and tips:

  • Beware the morning after
  • You could be over the legal limit for many hours after your last drink – even if it’s the ‘morning after’. Sleep, coffee and cold showers don’t help you to sober up.
  • There is no excuse for drink driving
  • Alcohol creates a feeling of overconfidence, which can make judging distance and speed more difficult, and can delay your reactions.
  • Most drink drive crashes occur within three miles of the start of the journey.
  • If you’re planning to drink alcohol, plan how to get home without driving
  • Agree on a designated driver, get a taxi or use public transport
  • Don’t offer an alcoholic drink to someone you know is planning to drive
  • Even if you’re not driving, you can help to reduce the number of people who are killed and injured every year through drink driving.
  • Don’t accept a lift from someone you know has consumed alcohol

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H4vgrab11111As Police and Crime Commissioner it is a key responsibility to help keep people in West Yorkshire, including the most vulnerable, safe and feeling safe.

I do this in a variety of ways and in October two major projects have taken place in helping to achieve such aims. The first being the creation of the Help for Victims website and the other being the latest round of the Safer Communities Fund, both significant in their own right.

Victims deserve to be listened to and have a voice in the criminal justice system.

When I was elected as Police and Crime Commissioner in 2012, I made five pledges to victims.

They were to be open and accountable to witnesses and victims, seeking out and acting on their views, making sure they get the high quality help they need, when they need it, in the way they need it, from the right agency.

Support the police to be even more victim focused and giving victims and witnesses an effective voice in the wider criminal justice system.

Within that context, as your Police and Crime Commissioner I have created a website solely dedicated to helping victims and witnesses.

Launched on October 24 www.helpforvictims.co.uk, Help for Victims is the only website that provides clear and concise advice to victims and witnesses who want to understand the criminal justice process.

More importantly, Help for Victims will inform witnesses and victims of their Code of Rights and as well as questions and answers, disseminated from the Victims’ Code and Witnesses Charter, those using the website can inquire and ask for further information.

There will be individual pages for 400 local supporting organisations which can help with concerns such as cyber bullying or hate crime with trained advisers on hand to answer questions or concerns.

The Victim Support charity has worked with us on developing the website and informed the decisions we have taken, because it is important to all that the most vulnerable know they have the support and advice they need and know where to turn.

But that is not all. I created Help for Victims to ensure victims and witnesses have all the knowledge they need to empower them to make informed decisions. It is the only website with all these facilities in one place for West Yorkshire.

It is important that people realise if they feel they are a victim or witness to a crime, this website is for them as a new and important facility in addition to other victim and witness pathways.

Underlining my commitment to victims I have already made £3.5million available to police for increased capacity to deal with child sexual exploitation (CSE), human trafficking and cyber crime. I have also provided funding for more staff dedicated to dealing with rape and sexual offences and protected as far as possible front-line Neighbourhood Policing Teams as well, including Police and Community Support Officers (PCSOs) for this and next year.

I have recently met safeguarding experts from around West Yorkshire to discuss how CSE and safeguarding generally is being tackled locally and will ensure that victims and witnesses always come first and want them to trust that their voices will be heard.

I also recently held the third awards evening for my Safer Communities Fund. I have now given more than £500,000 to deserving organisations across West Yorkshire who are helping keep communities safe and feeling safe.

The money has come from the Proceeds of Crime Act and means ill gotten gains are being ploughed back into the very communities affected by such crime. The Fund was set up at the start of this year and we have now awarded £567,000 to charities, voluntary groups, and other organisations across the county. It was heart-warming to hear from the some of the groups and the real impact they are having on people’s lives.

The demand for money under my Safer Communities Fund is considerable with 165 applications totalling £885,892 in this round and I am continually impressed by the amount of worthy causes and organisations applying for money from the fund.

This fund is crucial and I would like more POCA money to fund more groups in order to meet the clear demand out there, as well as ensuring that 50% of the money that is clawed back locally is spent on policing operations in agreement with the Chief Constable…this would be a win win all round.

The fourth grant round has now opened and I would encourage anyone who believes they are eligible for funding to visit my website at www.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk to apply for funding.

All applicants need to demonstrate with their bids can support the outcomes and priorities of the Police and Crime Plan and groups and organisations can make bids at any time throughout the year.

West Yorkshire as a whole is tackling the issue of child sexual exploitation (CSE) with joint working crucial to ensuring victims feel safe and ensuring perpetrators are brought to justice.

Events have been brought into sharp focus recently by the report into CSE by Professor Alexis Jay’s independent report into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham.

It outlined failings where a culture of inaction and ignorance led to victims being failed on an industrial level. Those recommendations from that report need to be looked at by every police force and local authority across the UK.

That includes West Yorkshire, where I have sought assurances from the Deputy Chief Constable that those recommendations, are embedded and implemented on every level.

Because we need to ensure this is not happening here, and if it is, we are doing everything we can to root it out and deal with it

Education, awareness and training are the tools of power that we will use to combat this culture of fear, intimidation and threats that surround CSE.

I have recently met with child protection experts from across the county to discuss the recommendations from the Rotherham report on child sexual exploitation (CSE) and look at how we work better together going forward.

Children’s Services Directors from all five West Yorkshire Councils, Safeguarding heads and West Yorkshire Police all met at Carr Gate headquarters in Wakefield to discuss the work being done to engage in our communities, prevent children becoming victims, providing help and support for victims and making sure the perpetrators of this crime are punished.

Building on good work already being done we then discussed the creation of an action plan for West Yorkshire which would include increased awareness raising, improved information sharing and intelligence gathering and ensuring all agencies are taking a more joined up approach to tackling CSE.

Since 2012 in West Yorkshire the CSE Strategy Group involving the five Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards and West Yorkshire Police Safeguarding leads have come together to share good practice and work with victims to support victims and ensure prosecutions.

Important work has included the West Yorkshire-wide media campaign directed at parents to raise awareness “Know the Signs” and online grooming – “Do You Know Who You Are Talking To”, developing an app for young people, and with Together Against Grooming, a letter to mosques.

I chaired the meeting because it is crucial that all our thinking and work around CSE remains joined up with the victims at the heart of everything we do.

The turnout demonstrated how seriously this issue is treated here in West Yorkshire and what we are doing to tackle it proactively as well as seeing what we can learn from the recommendations contained in the Rotherham report and from each other.

Tackling CSE has always been one of my top priorities as well as other safeguarding issues, which is why I have previously brought partners together to focus and co-ordinate work on CSE and have made an extra £3.5m available to the police for increased capacity to deal with CSE, human trafficking and cyber crime.

Victims have to remain at the heart of everything we do and they need to know that they will be taken seriously, their concerns treated with the utmost respect and listened to, and their perpetrators brought to justice.

This issue needs bringing right out into the open for everyone to see and understand so there is no hiding place, there is no ‘hidden crime’ phrase related to CSE.

I would urge anyone, who believes they have been a victim of CSE, to contact the Police or their local authority, or my office, because they do not have to suffer in silence.

Having your own vehicle opens many doors to succeeding in life and gives you a greater sense of independence.

It can mean the difference between getting a job and unemployment and can also have a positive effect on your social status.

Best of all it allows you to travel around at your leisure, without having to rely on public transport.

But this can all be taken away from you very suddenly if you are convicted of drug driving.

It is illegal to drive if you’re unfit to do so because you’re under the influence of legal or illegal drugs.

Taking drugs will impair driving skills. Driving while under the influence of drugs is extremely dangerous and can affect driving in numerous ways.

Drug drivers can suffer from slower reaction times, erratic and aggressive behaviour, an inability to concentrate properly, nausea, hallucinations, panic attacks, paranoia, tremors (or ‘the shakes’) dizziness and fatigue. In such a condition, it is a bad idea to be behind the wheel of a car, for the driver and their passengers.

During the phase while the effects of drugs are wearing off, the taker may feel fatigued, which will affect their concentration.

If the police stop you and think you’re under the influence of drugs they can do a ‘Field Impairment Assessment’. This is a series of tests, where they might ask you to walk in a straight line and check your eyes for any suggestions that you might be under the influence of drugs.

If you’re deemed unfit to drive because of taking drugs, you will be arrested and will have a blood test at a police station. If the test shows you’ve taken drugs you could be charged with drug driving.

A conviction for drug driving will mean:

  • a minimum one-year driving ban
  • a fine of up to £5,000
  • a criminal record

Your driving licence will also show you have been convicted of drug driving. This will stay on your licence for 11 years and very likely see your car insurance premium rise significantly.

Should you be involved in a road traffic collision which results in the death of a person, you could be charged with causing death by dangerous driving, which carries a sentence of up to 14 years.

You don’t have to be on illegal drugs to be unfit to drive – many prescription or over-the-counter drugs can also impair your ability to drive. If you’re on or are about to take legal drugs and are not sure whether these will affect your driving, please talk to your doctor, pharmacist or healthcare professional.

A group of Bradford College students will be helping to reduce crime in the city as part of their studies.

The 10-week Student Guardianship scheme will see Public Services students work alongside police and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS), delivering crime and fire prevention advice, information leaflets and community reassurance messages.

The students are required to complete 28 hours over the course duration. This will help them to complete their employability and career planning module.

College lecturer Nosheen Qamer, said, “This is a really exciting opportunity for our students which will help to give them a first-hand insight into how the police and fire service work in the local communities and how they help to keep residents safe. We hope this Student Guardianship scheme will be a real success for all those involved, and that our students will gain vital skills and experience which will stand them in good stead for a career in public service.”

Detective Inspector Phill Bates, of Bradford District CID, said, “Partnership working is key to reducing crime in Bradford, and the students will be playing a valuable part in enhancing our predictive policing tactics for the city.  Not only will this help them to complete their studies, but it will give them a practical policing experience which will give them the tools to progress in any future public services role.”

Tom Rhodes, WYFRS Fire Prevention Manager for Bradford, added, 

“We are very pleased to be part of this partnership. The students will be helping the fire service by delivering safety leaflets in the run up to Bonfire Night, which is a notoriously busy time for us. “This will help keep communities safe from the dangers that can be posed by mishandling fireworks and setting fires in the open.”

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West Yorkshire Police is leading the way in one of the biggest technological advancements in modern policing.

Four thousand hand-held devices are being issued to front line officers and staff, replacing old pocket note books. The mobile devices contain online ‘apps’ which allow the users to record a crime without having to return to a station.

Assistant Chief Constable, Andy Battle said it means more time spent in our communities. “This initiative will exploit technology to maximise the capability and effectiveness of policing at the front-line. It will potentially lead to 7,000 front line officers and staff using the devices. As a result of this project, there will be an increase in the amount of time they are able to spend on the streets, dealing with crime and public safety. The device includes an e-notebook which will enable us to record information and make intelligence submissions via secure mobile police apps.

Officers will be able to enter electronic witness statements and complete missing person forms without having to put pen to paper back at base. Similarly, the device will allow users to view and update incidents whilst on the beat, increasing our visibility, responsiveness and presence on the streets.”

According to a national audit conducted in 2012 which looked at mobile working in policing across the UK, an average of 18 minutes of additional time on the streets was generated. From a West Yorkshire perspective, one minute of extra time on the street per officer, per day equates to a million pounds worth of additional policing annually.

Mr Battle continues, “We continue to look for ways to revolutionise the way we do business, creating efficiency savings that will ultimately benefit the communities we serve long into the future.”

Mark Burns WilliamsonWest Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson said,

Providing the best possible service to our communities through modern mobile technology and innovation is at the heart of my Police and Crime Plan. The investment is being provided through a transformation fund as part of the 2014/15 budget agreement. The introduction of the mobile devices will ensure that officers and staff have more time to spend in their communities, offering greater visibility and enabling them to carry out their roles more effectively. As we face Government cuts of over £160 million pounds between 2010 and 2017, it is imperative that we continue to look towards new ways of working that ensure our neighbourhoods are safe and feel safe.

PEACEFUL PROTEST – STAYING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE LAW

There has and continues to be a keen interest from the public in the situation in Gaza, which has led to a series of protests being organised across West Yorkshire – particularly in Bradford.

Policing protests is a particularly challenging area of Policing. All officers take an oath when joining the service to discharge their duties without fear or favour.

As you can imagine, at times we may have strong feelings about the demonstrations that we are policing, but our training and discipline assist in not being influenced. It is really important that we are impartial as our duty is to facilitate peaceful protest as long as it is legal. We must make sure that any protesters do not stray from lawful demonstrations into unlawful activities.

In the main, the protests in Bradford have been carried out very responsibly and peacefully with people exercising their democratic right to protest without adversely affecting the community. The leaders of these demonstrations have been responsible and have spoken with the Police about their intentions. This dialogue has ensured that the protesters have been able to achieve their aims without acting in an unlawful manner.

The Police will act in a proportionate manner when action is necessary with people who act unlawfully.

Bradford is a fantastic place to serve as an officer and the multicultural nature of the city provides a variety of problems to resolve. We work with people from all communities to make neighbourhoods safer. One of the fond memories I have of some recent partnership working was when the English Defence League came to demonstrate in Bradford. The demonstration was facilitated and passed with minimum disruption to the city.

The resilience of individuals and community groups was apparent in the build-up to the protest and throughout the day in question, and the support and engagement with local officers and officers from other areas was outstanding.

This is a fantastic example that demonstrates that the Police do not police the community in isolation, as we are actually part of the community which we serve.

Superintendent Vincent Firth is head of Partnerships for the Police in Bradford District. He has worked for West Yorkshire Police for more than 25 years and has previously worked in areas such as operational support and public order training. His current role means he is the key contact for partner agencies who express an interest in working in conjunction with the police in Bradford on projects.

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