Bradford district roads have been in the spotlight during Road Safety Week as the continued success of Operation Steerside was highlighted.
I was in Bradford during November to visit and observe aspects of the operation as part of my support for National Road Safety Week that looks to raise awareness of the safe and responsible use of roads with a particular focus this year on speed.
Steerside was launched in February 2016 with the aim of improving road safety across the Bradford district. Specifically the operation targets offences known as the fatal 4 – speeding, driving whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving whilst using a mobile phone and driving whilst not wearing a seat belt.
The operation has been very successful with over 1100 driving offences being dealt with and over 1000 vehicles seized.
It was great to visit Operation Steerside to see and hear about the on-going work by our dedicated officers in making our roads safer and to thank them personally for the significant impact their work is making in the area in cutting down the number of serious incidents and other dangerous activity on our roads.
I was able to spend some time with Sgt Cameron Buchan who is doing a great job leading the Steerside team on tackling the issues of speeding and the use of mobile phones whilst driving during my visit.
I am very aware of how important safe roads are to our communities. Approximately 40% of respondents to my Police and Crime Plan consultation last year stated that road safety was important to them and it is an issue that is regularly raised with me in person and online.
I will continue to invest wherever possible and work with West Yorkshire Police, charities such as Brake and our partners to continue to do all we can to keep our roads safe for everyone.
The public can also play their part by sending in dash cam footage of dangerous driving in Bradford District to send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org so police can review these matters and take further action where they are able to do so.
November was a very busy month as I was also in Westminster trying to secure the support of MPs in getting a fairer funding deal for West Yorkshire.
Since 2010/11 funding for West Yorkshire has reduced by over 36% in real terms and we have seen significant increases in complex demands during this time, including domestic abuse, missing people, serious sexual offences and cyber-crime.
Furthermore, the latest publication by the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimates a 7% increase in fraud offences in West Yorkshire, over half of which are cyber related.
The pressure this has put the police under as forces like ours try to protect frontline policing and find efficiencies elsewhere is significant and, in today’s context, unsustainable without more resources.
That is why meeting MPs was so important to ensure we have a cross-party approach wherever possible for more funding as our communities need more resources, not less and I have urged MPs to join me in making the case for a fairer funding deal for West Yorkshire for 2018/19 in the form of a new police settlement to enable sustained investment in policing.
Last month (NOV) also saw my annual third and voluntary sector conference which championed the crucial role of the voluntary and community sector.
Attended by 130 people from over 95 organisations from across West Yorkshire, the aim of the conference was to build on existing relationships so that the police and third and voluntary sector work more closely together to deliver the outcomes in my Police and Crime Plan.
Working in groups, the attendees discussed realistic scenarios developed specially for the conference that the Police have to deal with in their day to day work, and how better working relationships with the sector could help both to prevent them but also how they are dealt with once they happen.
The scenarios covered domestic abuse, hate crime, mental health, re-offending and human trafficking. Through the group work attendees got a better understanding of the benefits of working together and how improvements can be made going forwards.
The Third and Voluntary Sector has an absolutely crucial role to play in keeping West Yorkshire safe and feeling safe and there are a huge number of organisations out there in our communities working really hard in challenging circumstances and with some of the most vulnerable, not for financial gain, but to make a real difference.
This annual event gives me a real chance to connect and see what more I can do to support these groups. To find out more about my work with the Third Sector visit www.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/partnership/partnership-working/third-sector.aspx.