I was very pleased last month that the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill, also known as the Protect the Protectors Bill, was finally signed into law.
The new legislation means tougher sentences for those who assault emergency service workers.
To have now reached the milestone is true testament to the unwavering support of all those who have helped to progress this extremely important bill.
I gave my full backing to the ‘Protect the Protectors’ campaign, as I know the absolute importance in helping to safeguard police officers and other front line emergency workers as they go about their business on all our behalves. I also urged other PCCs to support the Bill with their local MPs and wrote to the Home Secretary during the passage of the Bill through parliament.
Working very closely with Halifax MP Holly Lynch, who first introduced the Bill in 2016, and the West Yorkshire Police Federation particularly, we have increased parliamentary awareness, which has resulted in this positive outcome.
This legislation will bring tougher sentences for offenders sending out a strong message and help to reduce attacks on those who put their lives on the line every day for the safety of others.
Whilst it signifies a turn in the tide against perpetrators, I think it also illustrates just how much we all value our emergency services and the difficult jobs they all do, and they need to know they have our support.
It was also the awards evening for my latest Safer Communities Fund grant round in September, made up from Proceeds of Crime Funding.
I gave out £211,509.34 to 49 groups from across West Yorkshire to help tackle violent crime and support victims and survivors.
The successful projects will tackle serious violent crime from all angles including prevention, early intervention, diversion, protection and education. All key aspects in achieving better community safety outcomes.
The funded schemes included Project 6 in Bradford who are training young people to act as advocates across a number of schools to deter the use of drugs and help prevent crime and exploitation.
Unfortunately we have seen a rise in violent crime recently, not just in West Yorkshire but across the country. It has not gone unanswered, the police will always do everything they can to stop and prevent these offences, however community groups and organisations also have a really important part to play in preventing such crimes from happening in the first place.
The next round of the Safer Communities Fund opens for applications on 29 October 2018. £150,000 will be available for organisations to bid in for a grant of up to £5000. More details will be made available on my website soon, www.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk.
The Safer Communities Fund awards were followed by a week of action against knife crime
West Yorkshire Police ran the week which included educational activities, targeted enforcement work and strong anti-knife messages and awareness raising.
Throughout the week officers carried out test purchase operations across West Yorkshire to test if retailers sell knives to under 18s. Officers also spoke during school assemblies at both primary and secondary schools, and joined pupils on school buses and on the school run to educate young people on the dangers of carrying a knife.
We need do everything we can to stop this and I would ask for your help in rejecting knife crime, which we know can sometimes end in tragedy if someone is stabbed.
I would encourage everyone to get involved where they can, whether that is by reporting any suspicions or speaking to family and friends about the dangers. Reports can also be made anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
I’m also chairing the National Task and Finish Group for Police and Crime Commissioners and developing work around the local strategies aligned to the National Serious Violence Strategy. This will include co-ordinating bids to the £22 million early intervention fund that has just been announced by the Home Office, of which a number of West Yorkshire bids will be submitted.
I’d just like to finish on a quick reminder about the online safety competition for children in school years 7, 8 and 9, please do encourage any young people that would be eligible and like to get involved.
Asda are now sponsoring the competition and as well as a tour of West Yorkshire Police’s specialist operations site which includes the Mounted Section, Dog Section and Helicopter, the overall winner will also get a trip to Asda’s Head Office in Leeds to go behind the scenes at one of the UK’s largest companies…prizes well worth winning!
To find out more about the competition visit www.westyorkshire.police.uk/cyber-contest