By West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson
July saw a new Chief Constable for West Yorkshire Police confirmed in post.
Following an application and interview process I announced that my recommended candidate was John Robins QPM who was then officially appointed at a confirmation hearing of the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel.
John demonstrated during interview his extensive understanding of the issues facing West Yorkshire, both in terms of the issues facing different districts and the financial challenges we bear, while dealing with ever complex crimes and trends.
He has worked in West Yorkshire since 1990, first as a Police Constable, working his way up to Chief Superintendent before becoming an Assistant Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable, so he can relate to officers and staff now joining the force just as he started on that path.
John will come to this role with a huge amount of knowledge and experience of the diversity, opportunities and challenges facing West Yorkshire, a place he has always called home, and has come through the ranks to become Temporary Chief Constable.
Tackling violent crime continues to be a priority and I held a regional conference in July with the Home Office to share knowledge across the county and look for long term solutions.
Held in Leeds, it brought together partners from the NHS, fellow PCCs, police, probation, public health, education, local authorities, community safety partnerships, voluntary and community groups to help understand what the public health approach looks like in tackling serious violence.
The other side of the coin to this kind of partnership working is robust law enforcement, which is also incredibly important and something which the public expect and I fully support as a twin-pronged approach.
Operation Jemlock has been running since April when Police forces including West Yorkshire were given greater stop and search powers to tackle the threat of knife crime as well as additional funding, £4.02m in our case to undertake additional operations throughout 2019/20.
#OpJemlock involves officers carrying out proactive, high visibility patrols in key crime areas. Teams have also carried out reactive work according to demand and intelligence information.
Since the initiative launched, over 500 arrests have been made with over 40 weapons seized.
This operation has so far achieved some impressive results with these additional resources which is good to see and hope provides some extra reassurance to our communities. My thanks and appreciation to all the hardworking officers and staff involved so far which will be ongoing and intelligence led.
“West Yorkshire is united in the fight against all forms of exploitation”. That was the message from a special safeguarding workshop I arranged last month.
Representatives from each of the districts Safeguarding Adults, Safeguarding Children, Community Safety and Health and Well Being Boards and Partnerships were present and gave a collaborative presentation on their work to safeguard people.
Following the presentations, a dedicated session explored what more can be done to keep vulnerable people safe across West Yorkshire.
The effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), something which is widely believed to have an enormous impact on individuals, families and communities was also discussed at length.
It’s our joint aim to reduce harm and ultimately rid our communities of exploitation and abuses. This will remain our ambition and something we absolutely have to work together on.
On a lighter note I was very pleased to join the Bradford Community Champions initiative to help inspire young people across the Bradford District.
The Community Champions, who are led by Gill Arnold JP, Deputy of the West Yorkshire Bench, and Bradford Council as part of the Education Covenant initiative, work with schools to encourage and motivate students.
They highlight the importance of school life and hard work and emphasise that every lesson is paramount in shaping their future.
My first point of call was with students at Carlton Bolling College where I spoke about my own experiences including the challenges that I’ve faced and overcome.
It is crucial we take the responsibility collectively to invest in our young people, harness their ability and show them the importance of discipline and hard work for future success, which I believe given the right opportunities is in everyone’s grasp.