Newsletter January 2016

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Message for the New Year

It's at times like this that the effort everyone connected with West Yorkshire Police and of the office of the PCC, whether that be someone who works or volunteers for the Force and other services, comes into ever more sharper focus. People give up spending time with loved ones to keep the communities of West Yorkshire safe. I want to extend a big thank you and my appreciation to them. It's been a very busy 2015 for West Yorkshire Police and in my own office, key outcomes around tackling crime and safeguarding within the Police and Crime Plan continue to be met. As we go forward I will continue to work very closely with West Yorkshire Police and key local partners to achieve shared community safety goals. I know 2016 will be another challenging year but I look forward to together making sure our communities are safer and feeling safer and would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone all the very best for you and your families over the festive period and New Year.

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I invested £1million in an innovative new project to help tackle domestic abuse and violence

The new service called Choices was opened in December at the YMCA building in Halifax. The Choices service will be run by the social care and health charity CRI in partnership with my office. It will work with statutory and voluntary partners to directly support victims of domestic abuse and violence and those committing the crime. Choices will use highly trained staff to identify and address the root causes of domestic abuse and violence. There will also be a Victim Co-ordinator to ensure victims are kept informed and updated at every stage of the work done. Tackling domestic violence and abuse is a priority in my Police and Crime Plan and Choices is an excellent opportunity to help make a real difference for victims suffering from domestic violence and help those committing it to stop and change their behaviour.  

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Police Funding Settlement

The details of the police funding settlement are a step in the right direction, albeit still an overall reduction. I have previously spoken publicly and campaigned hard for the Government not to slash police budgets any further and it appears they have listened carefully to what I and others have been warning about for some time.  This is not a growth budget though, but one that will at least broadly help protect what we have and it will take some time to repair some of the damage already done. It must be remembered, however, that West Yorkshire Police has reduced from employing over 10,000 officers and staff in 2010 to now employing less than 8,000. We also need to bear in mind the planned changes to the police funding formula sometime next year which could adversely affect the overall funding position for West Yorkshire and is something that will need watching very closely. I will now take time to consider what this budget actually means in reality rather than what is said at the despatch box in Parliament and what options are available to protect and strengthen front line policing if possible.

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New hub to help victims and witnesses of crime

A new centre dedicated to supporting victims and witnesses opened its doors in Wakefield. I provided funding for the facility, which is managed by Victim Support, which offers a place for victims and witnesses to get the information and advice they need. The new hub houses the Wakefield and Kirklees Victim Support community team and has bookable meeting rooms; a dedicated 101 telephone line for members of the public to report crime or get updates on ongoing cases; access to computers for Criminal Injuries Claim applications and the Help for Victims website www.helpforvictims.co.uk. There is also a large reception area with room for other support agencies. If you would like to know more about the Victims Hub email [email protected] or call 01924 614440. Or you can visit the centre, which is located on Wood Street in Wakefield City Centre, in person.

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Highlights

One million pounds given out through the Safer Communities Fund
More than 220 groups have now benefitted from over £1m pounds of recovered money through my Safer Communities Fund (SCF).  I originally launched the fund to bring together money seized from criminals across West Yorkshire into a single pot to benefit local communities. A huge thank you to West Yorkshire Police and Prosecutors in securing these ill-gotten gains from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA). 

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Event to tackle Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) a success
The event was the first time that statutory and community partners from across the county had come together with me to discuss work to prevent and raise awareness of FGM, including how best to support victims. 

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West Yorkshire Criminal Justice and Mental Health Forum

Partners from health and criminal justice have come together to launch the West Yorkshire Criminal Justice and Mental Health Forum. This Forum is unprecedented and has come together to better meet the health and criminal justice needs of people with mental health issues within West Yorkshire communities.

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Celebrating 30 years of Neighbourhood Watch in West Yorkshire
2015 marked 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.

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Dedicated team of detectives to combat human trafficking
A new dedicated Human Trafficking Unit (HTU) was created and works both locally and nationally to target organised crime lords seeking to traffic people into West Yorkshire. It is already recognised as a cutting edge team nationally.

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A specialist new team to tackle cyber crime in West Yorkshire
Specialist cyber skilled staff have been recruited to provide West Yorkshire Police with cutting edge skills in combating cyber crime, and in using the latest techniques to help enhance traditional investigations.

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Tour de Yorkshire
West Yorkshire Police again played their full role with our partners in local government and Welcome to Yorkshire, and I would like to thank all our officers, staff and volunteers for helping to facilitate this event. 

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Hate hurts: hate crime campaign re-launched
The campaign aims to raise awareness of hate crime and how to report it. I want victims and witnesses to feel able to come forward and report it to individuals and organisations they trust, because it is not acceptable in any form. 

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Guide Dogs Service Level Agreement
I was joined by West Yorkshire Police and The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association in signing an agreement to better support victims of attacks on assistance dogs. We shouldn't underestimate what an impact an attack can have and how much the people involved can be affected. 

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

The Duke of Edinburgh officially opened the police training facilities in West Yorkshire. 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.

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