Newsletter February 2016

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First ever National Network to support victims of human trafficking and modern slavery

I launched the first ever National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network with Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland in January. The network, which was launched at the Home Office, involves Police and Crime Commissioners signing up to an agreement to take a more strategic approach to tackle the issue by sharing best practice, assisting in the identification and conviction of perpetrators, and ensuring their Chief Constables are regularly held to account on the work they are doing in tackling the crime.  I believe this network is essential in working together to ensure this practice is eradicated as it has no place in today's society. It is widely accepted that human trafficking and modern day slavery still remains a hidden crime with many victims transported through different force areas, making it extremely difficult to investigate and measure. Given the ease and frequency of transportation that victims go through I identified the need to create more national joined up working to raise awareness and share good practice throughout the UK.

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West Yorkshire Police Cyber Crime Team Visit

I visited the specialist cyber skilled staff who were recruited to provide West Yorkshire Police with the skills to combat cyber crime. I funded the unit last year with a £250,000 investment to help enhance work already ongoing in the force to investigate cyber (technology enabled) offences. It also helps plug any specialist knowledge gaps in the force, assisting in and progressing some complex cyber investigations, and also help officers investigate more traditional crime types using the latest techniques and technology. The cyber crime unit are doing a fantastic job and it was great to see how passionate and dedicated they are in keeping people safe and will increasingly become a mainstream resource for modern policing. I would urge anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of cyber crime to come forward and report it to the police on 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

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Cyber Team And PCC
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£110,000 given out in extraordinary hate crime grant

The one off grant was funded from the Victim Support Services Fund (Ministry of Justice), which I hold, and was for organisations or individuals to support victims of hate crime. Applications for funding were taken late last year resulting in 12 successful projects sharing £112,732.50. I will continue to do everything I can to support all victims of hate crime and I am pleased to be able to offer this money to organisations and individuals who will make a real difference at the local and county wide level. It was also great to meet with all the successful groups to congratulate them and hear how they will be putting the funding to good effect. To find out more about the funded projects and what work they will be doing visit my website.

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Safer Communities Fund (SCF) helps make young people safer in Kirklees

Young people in Kirklees are more aware about the dangers of grooming and child sexual exploitation thanks to funding provided from my SCF (made up from the recovered proceeds of crime). Freedom Personal Safety used their grant to run Respect Me Too programmes. The six-week programmes were run in three high schools and a pupil referral unit and were aimed at raising awareness of healthy relationships, sexting, grooming and how to stay safe from sexual exploitation. Each group of students created their own group projects to share with peers across school so that the messages reached almost 6000 young people. Evaluation carried out following the programmes showed that awareness of issues increased dramatically with 56% more awareness about sexual exploitation, 59% more awareness about sexting and a 63% increase in awareness about where to get professional help. Freedom Personal Safety have used their grant with great effect - helping young people understand the very real dangers of sexual exploitation and grooming and helping them to avoid putting themselves in risky situations and potentially becoming a victim is vital. The next grant round of the Safer Communities Fund opens on 14th March, 2016, more information on how to apply is available on my website.

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Over £500,000 given to improve Restorative Justice in West Yorkshire

I have awarded more than £500,000 from the dedicated Victims Fund to help victims of crime. The money will ensure that local authorities and community safety partners develop their work around Restorative Justice (RJ). RJ includes where victims of crime engage with offenders through prior agreement with the aim of seeking closure for victims and helping the offender understand the consequence and impact of their actions. RJ is primarily aimed at helping the victim as well reducing reoffending which is a key aim. Putting the victims at the heart of everything we do is of paramount importance which I have worked hard to emphasise and develop over the past three years. We have to ensure that the victims' needs are always taken into account and that everything possible is done to support them whenever appropriate. By improving the way Restorative Justice works we are making sure that the victims' voices are heard and that there is a more consistent approach across the whole of West Yorkshire. The money has been awarded to West Yorkshire's five Community Safety Partnerships (CSP) and the not-for-profit organisation Restorative Solutions to deliver and work together.

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Visit to Bradford Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT)

I visited Bradford City NPT last month and spoke to officers and members of the community about policing and community safety. During my visit I was shown around the Edmund Street Day Shelter, which provides a lifeline to people who are homeless, where I met staff and service users. I then patrolled the city centre with PC Alex Alderson who spoke to me about the Employers Supported Policing project - this is a partnership where employers support their staff to train and patrol as Employer Supported Special Constables. Once trained they carry out patrols in designated areas of the city centre. I finished the visit at the Bridge Project at Forks Café - this is a social enterprise which provides work experience and training in hospitality and catering. Visits like these are of great benefit and I enjoy being able to speak to police officers and staff to find out about the issues they face in their areas on a day to day basis. It's also very useful to visit local businesses and speak to members of the community about the service they get from West Yorkshire Police and listen to their views about what more we can do working together on great local initiatives like the ones I've seen today.

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Drug awareness project launched

A new project was launched in the Keighley area to enlist parents and other people who work with youngsters to help combat the rise in cannabis use. A resource pack which includes scratch and sniff cards is being issued for the Keighley awareness project entitled 'No Excuses'. These cards bear patches of specially developed inks which mimic the smell of cannabis weed and resin, and also two other drugs - mephedrone, also known as MCAT, and amphetamine, also known as speed. The "No Excuses" project is being launched between Bradford Council, West Yorkshire Police, and social landlord Incommunities and is being funded by a grant from my Safer Communities Fund. I think it is important for us all to work together to combat this problem which is becoming ever more of a threat in our communities. So-called 'legal highs' are by no means safe. We are seeing an increase in people dying and being admitted to hospital as a result of taking these substances, so we all need to do more. Raising awareness around these issues, particularly among young people and parents, is extremely important so that they are fully aware of the dangers connected with these substances.

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Help for Victims website

The Help for Victims website was created and launched with the sole purpose of supporting victims and witnesses of crime. Anyone who feels they are a victim or witness to a crime and don't know where to go for help please visit www.helpforvictims.co.uk

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