August saw me release my refreshed Police and Crime Plan for West Yorkshire which outlines the crucial work needed, with partners, to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour (with a focus on violent crime), protect victims and witnesses, making sure criminal justice works for our communities and safeguard the region’s most vulnerable.
The Plan sets the outcomes and priorities that drive the work of my office, West Yorkshire Police and our partnerships working to keep West Yorkshire safe and feeling safe.
These outcomes and priorities were identified by wide consultation with the public and partners, and they remain relevant now but with one main change, the refreshed Plan has a renewed focus on tackling violent crime.
The more prominent focus on tackling violent crime is very timely and I have already invested in the Get Away N Get Safe programme to reach youngsters in Year 6 to encourage them to make the right choices. This is in addition to the latest round of my Safer Communities Fund which is targeting violent crime and we are working hard to secure additional funding from the Governments Serious Violent Strategy.
Other key refreshes in the Plan include further encouraging and supporting our communities to report offences, particularly ones that involve people who may be vulnerable and the support and wellbeing of our police officers, staff and volunteers.
A whole host of work has been delivered off of the back of the previous Plan and this refreshed edition promises to keep up that momentum. It’s a very challenging time for policing currently but the Plan is about having that collective commitment to make a real difference in our communities.
To find out more about the Police and Crime Plan and to download a copy visit my website.
Partnership working is a key theme in the Police and Crime Plan and there was a great example the difference it can make a few weeks ago when members of an Organised Crime Group, which trafficked victims from Slovakia into Leeds, were convicted of exploitation offences.
The convictions were the result of a 5 year investigation by West Yorkshire Police’s Human Trafficking Unit and included help from partners including Leeds City Council, the DWP and HMRC, NHS, Salvation Army, Hope for Justice and the CPS.
The investigation uncovered that the group were trafficking vulnerable victims to the UK, promising them a better life or using the threat of violence.
Once the victims were in the UK the group would exploit them – housing them in nearby, often sub-standard accommodation (controlled by them) and arranging the victims’ housing benefits to be paid directly to the group. The group would also set up bank accounts in the victim’s names but would then take all or some control of these before getting them to sign on to any other benefits available to them.
In a pre-planned operation in November 2013 West Yorkshire Police and partners raided addresses across the south and west of Leeds. A total of 37 victims aged 1 to 57 were rescued and referred to the National Referral Mechanism where they received appropriate support.
These investigations are often extremely complex and challenging and the tenacity of all the officers and partners involved in this case is commendable.
We continue to ask for our communities help in reporting suspicions of human trafficking and modern slavery. If you see anything suspicious, such as poor living conditions and working long hours for little or no pay, please report it to the Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700 or visit www.modernslaveryhelpline.org.
Continuing with the theme of partnership working, all five West Yorkshire Councils joined me in taking a stand against domestic violence with the White Ribbon campaign, and received White Ribbon accreditation status.
The development was recognised at an event in Huddersfield at the Textile’s Centre which also included inputs on sharing best practice with fellow professionals around issues of coercion and control, impact on children, older people, Honour Based Abuse and Shared Learning from Domestic Homicide Reviews.
We don’t want a single person to suffer abuse, whether physical or emotional, and victims should feel able to come forward and report offences. To report domestic abuse and to find out more visit www.westyorkshire.police.uk/domesticabuse, in an emergency, always call 999.
My office also recently received help from two young people on work experience.
Joe and Lois, both 17 and from Wakefield, are part of my Youth Advisory Group and requested to have placements to find out more about my role and the work of my office.
It was fantastic to have Lois and Joe join my office for a short time. They were both highly motivated and capable, and I am sure they are destined for great things and we all really appreciated having them around and positively contributing, they are a real credit to themselves, their families and West Yorkshire.
Young people have such a valuable contribution to make to policing and community safety and that is why I created my Youth Advisory Group, which Joe and Lois both are a part of.
The group consists of members aged between 13 and 21 years old who meet throughout West Yorkshire to give their views and comments to help steer decisions, policy and engagement. Membership is highly flexible, members are not required to attend every meeting and can also send ideas and feedback to me through a range of mediums including by email, telephone and social media.
The group is looking for new members so if you know someone that may be interested you can find out more information on my website www.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk.