Newsletter - March 2021
A message from Mark - Hello everyone
I hope you’re all keeping well and staying as positive as possible as we make a start on cautiously coming out of lockdown restrictions through the Spring and into the Summer.
This will be my last newsletter as the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire.
The pre-election period for the new West Yorkshire Mayor, who will inherit the PCC functions and responsibilities as part of their remit in a new Mayoral Combined Authority, starts on Thursday 25th March with the election due to be held on 6th May.
It has been an immense honour to serve as the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire having been first elected in 2012 and then re-elected in 2016 with the support of the public. It’s been a really varied and interesting role covering much wider areas of community safety and criminal justice, as well as strategic policing governance and accountability. I was recently reflecting that I have worked with every West Yorkshire Chief Officer, Home Secretary, Policing Minister and in some instances Prime Minister’s from around 2000 during my time firstly at the Police Authority and then the last 9yrs or so as the PCC. What stands out the most is working with great people, whether that’s within the office/policing, partners or with the great and diverse communities of West Yorkshire where I have lived, studied and worked all my life.
Despite the Covid challenges that we have all faced in the 12 months I look back with a sense of real pride in what we have been able to accomplish together.
Initiatives such as the Safer Communities Fund (SCF), which I launched in 2014 as a key commitment to distribute money recovered from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act, to good causes across West Yorkshire. The fund has gone from strength to strength, and as I finish my final term it has currently given out £3.77m to 827 projects making a real difference on the ground across our communities. This was ground-breaking at the time and I’m now pleased to say that most other PCCs across the country have adopted similar schemes to benefit grass roots groups and organisations far and wide helping to keep our communities safe and feeling safe which is the overarching vision of my Police and Crime Plan.
Pictured – awards evening for grant round 17 of the fund – February 2020
Services for victims of crime have been improved and developed, the Office of PCC and I have commissioned the Victim Support charity to provide our core support to victims and witnesses (including children), along with Restorative Solutions, who run a restorative justice service working to support victims and engage perpetrators where appropriate to work with each other. This service helps victims take positive steps to recovery but also helps put an offenders on a path that deters future criminal behaviour.
Additionally, in partnership with the NHS, West Yorkshire Police and others, I also commissioned and drove the vision and need for a new Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) at the heart of West Yorkshire with state-of-the-art fully integrated services for victims of sexual violence and abuse. In the current environment and in the wake of the awful Sarah Everard case this has never been more needed and believe this facility is now second to none in the country.
Pictured – The SARC is known as the Hazlehurst Centre
I was able to secure funding to launch and embed the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), a multi-agency approach, bringing together police, local government, public health, voluntary and third sector, community leaders and other key partners to tackle violent crime and crucially to understand its underlying causes. We have secured funding for a further twelve months for 2021/22 and believe the work now being undertaken can have a long lasting impact on being able to reduce violent crime over the long term.
Tackling human trafficking and modern slavery has been one of my key focuses and I have been the national PCC lead for Modern Slavery for a number of years. I put extra resources into policing working closely with WYP to enable the creation of a dedicated team to look into these vile human rights abuses within West Yorkshire and also championed good practise and partnership working with the creation of the West Yorkshire Anti-Slavery Partnership locally as well as the National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network for PCCs nationally which we launched at the Home Office in 2016.
That’s just a small snapshot of work, but what’s really important to note is these achievements could not have been done in isolation. I have always been a firm believer in the power of partnership working. A big thank you to West Yorkshire Police, our other emergency services, our local authorities and countless other organisations, voluntary, statutory and businesses who have all played massive roles in keeping West Yorkshire safe and feeling safe.
In my experience, the police and our partners overwhelmingly are doing their very best to make a positive difference and do the right thing for our communities. It may not always be portrayed in that way, and of course we won’t always get it right, but the vast majority of officers and staff work tirelessly to keep us safe, and bear in mind that the last 12 months during Covid have been particularly challenging for all our front line officers and staff who have stepped up so brilliantly. Thank you!
If you are interested in finding out more about the role of the Mayor and the upcoming elections then do visit my website https://www.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/about/devolution.
But with that, and for the final time, best wishes to you all.
Stay safe out there.
Many thanks, Mark
Mark Burns-Williamson OBE
West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner
Safer Communities Fund gives £3.77m to 827 projects
Awards evening for grant round 16 of the fund – September 2019
As mentioned in my introduction, the last round of Safer Communities Fund grants under my watch have been given out.
Since the fund launched, a total of £3.77m has been shared by 827 projects and it is estimated by the time the final projects finish, nearly 243,000 people will have been positively impacted by the fund.
The final £3,771,697.94 figure was achieved at a virtual awards and celebration event this month where a further 33 projects received a share of £176,272.82 in funding.
The fund has always been about turning ill-gotten gains into something positive and tangible for the communities that benefits people in a really great way.
I am overwhelmed at the positive impact it’s had in helping our communities feel safe and I want to say a huge thank you to everyone involved for the very real difference they all made and continue to make.
New Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) Awareness Campaign
I joined with West Yorkshire Police and partners to launch a new campaign to raise awareness amongst parents about the signs of Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) and to encourage people to come forward.
CCE involves a number of types of crimes which can include drugs, County Lines, the carrying of weapons, money muling and serious acquisitive crime.
Parents are often the first to notice a change in their child’s behaviour, therefore it is important to provide them with the information that they need to help protect their child.
To find out more about the signs visit https://www.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/news-events/news/new-child-criminal-exploitation-cce-awareness-campaign-launches
£1,568,000 to tackle serious violence
The Home Office recently announced a package which includes £30m for police to surge activity in serious violence hotspots and new money for early interventions to steer young people away from crime.
West Yorkshire will receive £1,568,000 of the monies and I will work with the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), the Chief Constable and many community safety partners to ensure it is invested and targeted in ways that deliver the greatest impact for our local communities
Tackling serious violent Crime remains one of my key priorities and both the VRU and West Yorkshire Police’s Operation Jemlock have recorded some impressive outcomes since their inception and we are seeing fewer victims as a result.
It is crucial, however, that we sustain that level of pressure, acting at the earliest opportunity to change behaviours, intervening and educating our young people on the dangers of violent behaviours.
Two New Police Stations to be built in Kirklees
Two new 21st century police stations are to be built in Kirklees as part of a milestone investment in helping to keep communities safe and feeling safe in the district for years to come.
The major investment will see a new police station built in Dewsbury and another station built in Huddersfield town centre.
Both projects are subject to successful planning approvals, and represent a major renewal of the Kirklees police estate coming into line with other parts of West Yorkshire.
This is the culmination of many years and months of hard work with a determination to find the best possible options for the people of Kirklees, which will see the development of much needed modern-day policing facilities rooted at the very core of our communities in both Huddersfield and Dewsbury.
Other recent releases
PCC placing victims at the heart of policing
West Yorkshire PCC statement - “One year on, a time to reflect and look forward”
West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner and Office retains Transparency Quality Mark
Top sporting names back project to tackle serious violent crime across West Yorkshire
NHS and Government Coronavirus Guidance
Government and NHS Advice
For the latest health updates and guidance from the Government visit: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
NHS guidance can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19
Contacting the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner
Along with the office I am currently working remotely. This means that face to face meetings at the office and elsewhere will not be taking place and we are not able to deal with correspondence posted through our letter box, either in person or by Royal Mail.
However, you can still get in touch by email [email protected] and telephone 01924 294000 in the usual manner.