Newsletter October 2016

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Keeping our roads safe is a top priority

I have seen the recent incidents reported in the press and I have listened to comments from members of the public and I want to be very clear in my response. Myself and West Yorkshire Police are determined to make sure our roads are safer. Road Safety will feature prominently in the new Police and Crime Plan and a number of initiatives have already been put in place to try and address the concerns around road safety and crime on our roads in general. The consequences of losing control of your vehicle can be truly devastating and have a wide impact upon the community. I believe that changing attitudes towards driving whilst on a mobile phone needs to be done with a combination of education and enforcement. The Government recently announced more severe penalties for people caught using a mobile phone whilst driving with both the points and fine to double. I welcome the changes but also the awareness this will give to the potential life changing or fatal consequences that can be caused by not paying attention when driving. 

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New online safety campaign launched

Cyber crime has more than doubled in the last year and can potentially affect anyone with access to a computer, mobile phone or tablet. Carole Pearson of Cleckheaton suffered at the hands of cyber criminals. Fraudsters called her on the phone pretending to be from a well-known multinational technology company. They claimed that her computer was full of porn but that if she paid money, the problem could be fixed. Mrs Pearson ended up paying over £14,000 of her life savings until she realised she had been conned. Mrs Pearson showed great courage in sharing her story and I hope that it will encourage people to think about their own online safety and reduce the chances of this happening to anyone else. Victims of cyber crime can be reluctant to report it for a number of reasons but I would always urge anyone who thinks they may have been a victim, or anyone that would like some advice on staying safe online, to contact West Yorkshire Police or visit their website.

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Tackling Modern Day Slavery with the help of the business community

I joined West Yorkshire Police and the public and private sectors to host a Modern Slavery summit. The aim of the event was to bring together partners from the business, banking and public sectors to work together to tackle this horrendous crime. Over 140 delegates from a cross section of businesses from the banking and recruitment sectors and representatives from academia attended the event. Human trafficking is a vile crime perpetrated by money driven criminals who have no regard for the suffering of their victims. Being the lead Police and Crime Commissioner for human trafficking and modern day slavery, here in West Yorkshire we are leading the way both regionally and nationally in tackling traffickers and criminal gangs, as well as rescuing and supporting the victims. The only way we can tackle this crime is to work together and this event was the latest step in that. It was a really constructive meeting and I would like to thank all those who attended and share our vision of bringing an end to modern day slavery and human trafficking.

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Reassurance following racially motivated attack on Polish man in Leeds

Reassurances to Polish and Eastern European communities following a racially motivated attack on a Polish national in Leeds last month. The attack was a disgusting act committed by people who do not represent West Yorkshire. I spend a lot of time out in our diverse communities and I know the vast majority of them are open, inclusive and tolerant and are appalled by this incident. West Yorkshire Police have kept me, local councillors and community representatives fully briefed as the investigation unfolds and I am confident the perpetrators will be brought to justice. Myself and West Yorkshire Police are committed to working together with eastern European communities and others to tackle hate crime head on. We will take every report seriously and investigate thoroughly, putting appropriate support in place for any victims..

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Bradford Restorative Justice Awards

Last month I attended an awards event that was held to recognise the hard work and commitment made by the volunteers at Bradford Restorative Justice Hub. Restorative Justice is a process whereby victims and offenders, or those in conflict can communicate through a volunteer facilitator either directly or indirectly. I was pleased to be able to help recognise the hard work and dedication of these volunteer practitioners who give up their time to help support victims of various crimes. Being a victim of crime can have a huge impact on people's lives and can often leave victims wondering why were they targeted, and the offenders do not stop to think about the implications of their actions and very often go on to reoffend. It's crucial that the victims' and survivors needs are always taken into account and that everything possible is done to support them whenever appropriate. Earlier this year I allocated £500,000 from the dedicated Victims Fund to further the valuable work of Restorative Justice throughout West Yorkshire and I constantly review the results.

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Meeting with the Children's Commissioner

My office met with the Children's Commissioner for England and Wales, Anne Longfield, to discuss the possibility of introducing an Icelandic approach to supporting young victims of sexual abuse. The 'Barnahus' approach is where all of the services for young victims of sexual abuse are provided under one roof. These include meeting immediate health needs, forensic and medical examination and therapeutic support as well as the chance to report to the police and give other evidence. The introduction of a 'Barnahus' in Iceland in 1998 resulted in the number of convictions for child sexual abuse increasing dramatically. However the Icelandic legal system is very different to our own, we can certainly learn from the Icelandic experience but need to apply it in very different circumstances.

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Grubs Up Safer Communities Fund Visit

Young people who are at risk of offending or have other vulnerabilities are receiving skills for life as part of a cooking at healthy eating course at Leeds Kirkgate Market. The project is being run by Leeds City Council's youth service after receiving funding from my Safer Communities Fund. It is for young people aged 13-17, who are either involved in or at risk of engaging in criminal activity or anti-social behaviour; are not in education, employment or training; are vulnerable or at risk of being exploited. The course aims to develop life-long skills through cooking whilst the qualified youth workers are able to build positive relationships with the young people to help address any issues they may have and support them through targeted youth work. The Safer Communities Fund was designed to fund projects just like 'Grubs up' that are making a real difference locally.

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Hate crime reporting app

Stop Hate UK have launched a free hate crime reporting app. The App is available on Android and IOS platforms by going to Google Play or the Apple App Store and searching for 'Stop Hate UK'. Find out more about it here:  http://www.stophateuk.org/report-hate-crime/west-yorkshire-hate-crime-reporting-app

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