Newsletter August 2015

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Clear pledge on future of PCSOs

After the story in the Yorkshire Evening Post I wanted to set the record straight and emphasise again my commitment to neighbourhood policing and the future of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). PCSOs play a very important role in helping to keep people safe and feeling safe, I remain as committed as ever to ensuring they remain a key part of the neighbourhood policing model. I have always done everything I can to protect neighbourhood policing, of which PCSOs play a key role with police officers and partners. I have also recently restated my commitment to the model of Neighbourhood Policing despite some other PCCs withdrawing support for visible policing within our communities, that isn't my view or that of the public we serve.  However, as we heard from the Chancellor George Osborne, the Home Office, which includes policing, will potentially have to find up to another 40% of cuts over the next 4 years on top of severe government cuts that have already been made. This will make it very difficult to maintain the current levels, but there will be still a substantial number of PCSOs as part of our Neighbourhood Policing Teams over coming years.

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Celebrating 30 years of Neighbourhood Watch in West Yorkshire

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) in West Yorkshire which boasts around 4,000 local schemes across the county. NHW is a simple but effective initiative where people come together to promote safety and reduce crime in their neighbourhoods. It plays a vital role in making our communities safer and feel safer. They are a valuable community partner and I will continue to work with them to help increase the number of schemes available across West Yorkshire. It's very important that we recognise and support our Neighbourhood Watches on a regular basis and hear from them directly. It is impressive how one scheme can make such a difference to an area and how just one person can make a difference. I would like to place on record my thanks to everyone involved in a scheme.

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Duke of Edinburgh officially opens West Yorkshire Police's training facility

His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh officially opened new prestigious police training facilities in West Yorkshire last month. The new £38 million training facility at the Carr Gate complex in Wakefield includes state-of-the-art firearms, public order and driver training facilities alongside Bishopgarth House which features more technological and traditional learning environments. It is also home to the National Police Air Service helicopter, West Yorkshire Police Dog Section and the Mounted Division. The visit was a great success; not only did it give me and West Yorkshire Police a chance to showcase the facilities to the Duke of Edinburgh but I also took the opportunity to invite people from across the communities of West Yorkshire to see for themselves what happens at the base.

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Seasonal forced marriage awareness raising campaign

Over the school holidays there tends to be an increase in forced marriages. I am running a joint campaign with West Yorkshire Police to remind people of the signs to look out for of forced marriage and honour-based violence.  These are appalling crimes and we must do everything we can to support the brave victims and witnesses who report those responsible. It is vital that we look at how we can best reach victims - they are often hidden away and not fully engaged with their wider community. Working with partners and in our communities, we need to raise awareness and address how we can make it easier for victims and witnesses to report these crimes.  

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Government proposals around the police funding formula

I have always fought for a fairer funding deal for West Yorkshire and will continue to do so. West Yorkshire Police is one of the largest forces in the country, facing complex policing challenges like counter terrorism, human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. West Yorkshire is an area of some of the greatest need and yet is hit the hardest by government cuts. Current projections indicate that by 2016/17 the budget will have been cut by nearly 40% which equates to £163m. The planned changes to the funding formula provide an opportunity for the government to redress this unfair imbalance. We will be undertaking a rigorous assessment of the funding formula and engage with our partners to make sure that throughout the consultation I represent the best interests of our communities and fight for a fairer funding deal.

Fearless workshop

I attended a Fearless workshop at Horbury Academy last month which was aimed at educating students about crimes which relate to Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). During the workshop the students learnt how to help protect themselves against these crimes, how to get support, and where to go to report information anonymously. Fearless is the youth service used by the crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers to encourage and support young people to share information anonymously about crime.  Educating young people about making the right decisions in life is important and can mean the difference between a good and a bad future for them. Helping them understand the dangers of sexting and putting themselves into risky situations is vital, as is raising awareness of how sexual exploitation and grooming take place and how they can reduce the risk of becoming a victim.

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Leeds City Neighbourhood Policing Team

My visit began with a briefing where I heard about the community safety priorities in the area before heading out with the team on a patrol around Leeds City Centre. I also had chance to run a question and answer session with staff where I was asked a variety of things including questions on shift patterns and what devolution of powers may bring.  Visits like this are very important as I get to better understand the needs and concerns of people in our communities as well as seeing the impact of the good work our Neighbourhood Policing Teams are carrying out on a daily basis, supporting our communities to make them safer and feel safer.

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