We have all heard of the terrible blight on our communities that child sexual exploitation (CSE) has – both on the victims and on law abiding people living in those areas.
Last year I called a meeting of child protection experts from across West Yorkshire after seeing the recommendations from the report by Alexis Jay on CSE. During that meeting we discussed how we could make sure that everyone did everything possible to safeguard children, engage with our communities, provide help and support for victims and make sure the perpetrators of this vile crime are punished.
We all have a duty to put a stop to CSE and tackling it is has always been one of my top priorities as your Police and Crime Commissioner. It is at the heart of the Police and Crime Plan and that is why I have recently pledged over £400,000 to help pay for action to tackle it.
I have set aside £440,000 which is on top of £3.5m already available to the police for dealing with CSE as well as other top priorities including human trafficking and cyber crime. The money includes the £1.5m investment over the next two years to pay for 30 more specialist CSE investigators with backgrounds including child social care, child protection issues and policing.
And this new money – the £440,000 – is helping to fund a renewed campaign to raise awareness of CSE in schools and colleges and to help fund people working in victim support roles within Children’s’ Services teams.
The money has come from my Partnership Executive Group Innovation Fund and will also help make sure that experts across the five policing districts in West Yorkshire continue to worth together to share knowledge and expertise.
I am pleased to announce crime in the communities of West Yorkshire is at a 31-year-low with 1,635 fewer victims in the year up to the end of March.
There have been significant reductions in the number of houses being broken into, items being stolen from cars and other vehicles (with 2,743 fewer offences) as well as a 27 per cent reduction in criminal damage.
This is good news for everyone, with crime back at levels last seen in the early 1980s but I am fearful that in the future it will not be possible to maintain such low levels. West Yorkshire Police officers and support staff continue to work very hard day in day out to help protect the public despite severe budget pressures and the force has had to work with fewer and fewer resources after severe Government cuts.
Decreases in crime must also be set alongside crime recording issues and although a lot of work is being done by West Yorkshire Police to address this, I will continue to monitor closely the result of this action but the combination of government cuts and new crime recording practises, will I suspect, start to see the long trend of falling crime starting to be reversed.
And just a final reminder that if you want to get in touch with me about an issue you want to discuss please visit www.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk for details or contact my office on 01924 294000