Recovered criminal cash helping to reduce re-offending and support victims in Bradford and Keighley (29 Mar 2017)

West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson's Safer Communities Fund has been helping to reduce re-offending and supporting victims and witnesses in Bradford and Keighley.

Bradford Court Chaplaincy Service (BCCS) received £4,760 from the Safer Communities Fund which provides grants to good causes throughout West Yorkshire using money recovered from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

BCCS is an independent charity based at both Bradford and Keighley Magistrates' Court and Bradford Combined Court Centre. They offer free practical, non-judgemental and confidential support to all court users including victims, witnesses, defendants and their families.

The Safer Communities Fund grant allowed for 2 additional paid support sessions each week, supporting an additional 400 people.

The additional sessions work face-to-face with people needing support to help with problems such as alcohol, bereavement, debt management, domestic violence, drugs, abuse, forced marriage, homelessness, mental health issues and parenting support.

In the case of offenders this support can help to break the cycle of re-offending by targeting the root cause of the offending.

Mark said: "I was very pleased to be able to provide some funding for this project which is providing a really valuable service at a time and place that can be extremely stressful and emotional for those involved.

"This innovative project safeguards vulnerable people, supports victims and witnesses and tackles crime which are all key outcomes in my Police and Crime Plan.

"The next round of the Safer Communities Fund opens for applications on 24 April, for more information please visit my website or call my office on 01924 294000."

Mary Carroll, Chair of Trustees at Bradford Court Chaplaincy Service said: "BCCS is most grateful for the grant received from the PCC which funded 2 support sessions each week over a year.

"Attending court is very challenging; but especially so for those 1 in 4 who suffer from mental illness or have low literacy or numeracy skills. The stress of proceedings can intensify the underlying issues, which initially led to the offending behaviour. Without the crucial support, provided by BCCS, the cycle continues, causing further misery to everyone concerned. Defendants' families (the secondary victims of crime) suffer greatly, as they are generally unsupported and may be harshly judged by their local communities.

"Our team work hard to identify problems and guide those in need to effective agencies to take support forward. Last year we focussed especially on debt and women's issues and helped a huge number of unrepresented defendants."

To find out more about Bradford Court Chaplaincy Service visit http://www.bradfordcourtchaplaincy.org.uk/

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2017