Police and Crime Commissioner statement on West Yorkshire Crime Severity Data (6 Jan 2017)

Responding to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) crime severity data which has been in the news, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson said: "No-one wants to see a rise in recorded crime in their community and I will continue to work vigorously with the police and our many partners to help keep West Yorkshire safe and feeling safe.

"It's important though that these figures are put into context given the significant affect crime recording changes continue to have and the ever changing and increasing complexity of demand on our police service. It's also worth noting that the figures for West Yorkshire are not dissimilar to other large Metropolitan police service areas in England and Wales that face very similar policing and community safety challenges. Importantly the chances of becoming a victim of crime haven't increased as markedly when we have scrutinised the figures more closely.

"West Yorkshire Police have been working hard to make sure their recording processes are consistent and have been commended on their efforts by Sir Thomas Winsor, Chief Inspector of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) the independent inspection body for the police. Before the changes to recording practices, crimes were being properly investigated but weren't always recorded correctly. Whilst the comments from HMIC were welcome and the work around good crime recording compliance standards in West Yorkshire continues, I raised last year with Sir Thomas Winsor the issue of ensuring there is a level playing field across the police service around crime recording compliance. I was assured by HMIC that a robust approach by them to ensure these standards are being consistently implemented across England and Wales are being met and I will be monitoring closely this commitment to ensuring we are being compared fairly and on a 'like for like' basis, otherwise it becomes an unfair 'post code lottery'. 

"I take crime recording and West Yorkshire Police's performance very seriously and will continue to analyse these figures closely, engage with our communities and regularly meet with the Chief Constable and our partners to make sure we are doing all we can to keep people safe and feeling safe.

"However, crime statistics can only ever give an overview and are not fully reflective of the difficult work West Yorkshire Police carry out daily. We are seeing a rise in complex and demanding cases involving safeguarding vulnerable people across a number of areas such as missing person enquiries, for example, and this crucial work is not fully reflected or captured.

"Extensive Government budget cuts to policing and wider public services are continuing to take their toll at the cost of £140 million and the loss of 2000 officers and staff since 2010. I have warned very publicly over the last few years about the consequences and scale of these cuts and there is no doubt in my view about the impact this has had, and is having, which is partly reflected in these figures. However, I set a budget last year by raising an additional £5 on the police council tax to allow the recruitment of around 600 new police officers and importantly to protect the current PCSO numbers across West Yorkshire, but inevitably it will take some time to rebuild the numbers required to increase the much needed capacity and visibility on our streets.

"I am now consulting and looking at the budget for the coming year which will also include ongoing recruitment which is absolutely crucial and I will carry on fighting for a fairer funding deal for West Yorkshire as the Government undertake a review of the national funding formula which accounts for roughly 80% of budget. To take part in the consultation visit http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/communityconversation2017.

"I have recently launched my new Police and Crime Plan for West Yorkshire following extensive consultation for which the vision is 'Keeping West Yorkshire Safe and Feeling Safe' - the key outcomes focus on tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, safeguarding vulnerable people, making sure criminal justice works for communities and supporting victims and witnesses.

"In West Yorkshire, victims will always come first. Anyone that has been a victim of crime or feels like that may have been a victim should always come forward and report it to the police or anonymously through Crimestoppers if they prefer. Reports will be taken seriously and appropriate support will be put in place for any victims www.helpforvictims.co.uk. Crimes and incidents can be reported to West Yorkshire Police in a number of ways, visit www.westyorkshire.police.uk/ClickB4UCall to find out more. Crimestoppers can be contacted on 0800 555 111 or for more information visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2018