June marks National Volunteers Week which is an important opportunity to recognise and thank people who dedicate their time, without financial reward, to help keep our communities safe.
Within my office, and West Yorkshire Police, we are very lucky to have a large number of dedicated volunteers. These roles range massively, from Special Constables, Community Volunteers, Independent Custody Visitors to my Youth Advisory Group.
My Youth Advisory Group (YAG) consists of young people from the age of 13 up to 21 from across West Yorkshire who meet to provide me with guidance and feedback to help inform decisions, policy and engagement.
At the group’s most recent meeting in Bradford during May they had a guest speaker from the NHS, and among other things, discussed the support for victims of sexual assault.
The next meeting of the YAG is set for 3 November in Kirklees. There are also events over the summer for members including visiting West Yorkshire Police’s Learning and Development Centre and Headquarters. The group are currently recruiting new members, to find out more visit https://www.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/get-involved/youth-advisory-group/recruitment.aspx.
June also sees the police and local authority partners supporting Safeguarding Week.
Safeguarding Week involves all the local safeguarding boards and community safety partnerships across the region joining forces with myself and West Yorkshire Police to hold workshops and events aimed at informing the public and professionals about how to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.
Bradford Council will publish details of all of the events being held on their website so I would encourage you to have a look and see how you can get involved.
Speaking of keeping people safe, I was pleased to see the Assaults on Emergency Services Workers Bill, which looks to give greater protection to our emergency service workers, receive support from the House of Commons. I worked very closely with Holly Lynch MP (Halifax), other MPs, and the West Yorkshire Police Federation in particular to support this Bill.
The Bill would make it an aggravated offence to assault emergency service workers. It calls for tougher sentences for attacks on emergency workers, increasing the maximum sentence for common assault from six months to a year if staff are attacked while on duty. It would also force anyone who bites, spits at or attacks an emergency service worker to undergo blood and / or saliva tests.
Our emergency service staff work tirelessly and selflessly to keep us safe and it is crucially important that we do all we can to support them back.
It’s also reassuring to see that sexual assaults have now been added to the list of assaults in the Bill. I previously wrote to West Yorkshire MPs and the Home Secretary to ask that they show their full support for the Bill and the inclusion of sexual assaults.
I will continue to do all I can to support the Bill and our emergency service workers who do such good job in keeping our communities safe. The Bill now heads to the House of Lords for further scrutiny and I will be following developments closely.
West Yorkshire Police launched an innovative new campaign reaching out to people who look at indecent images of children online and warning them they will be caught if they don’t take immediate action to stop their illegal activities.
The new campaign is the first of its kind in West Yorkshire specifically targeting adults involved in the viewing of indecent images of under 18-year-olds online.
Tackling child sexual abuse and safeguarding young people is an absolute priority. West Yorkshire Police and our partners are doing a huge amount of work to help tackle these issues.
This campaign rightly sends a powerful message warning those accessing and distributing indecent images of children that they will be caught and dealt with appropriately and could face losing everything they hold dear.
We want perpetrators and potential perpetrators to know that the consequences of this behaviour, including having to sign the sex offenders register, are very real and would have damaging implications.
Those accessing illegal images online are committing a serious offence and they will not remain anonymous, and you could lose everything.