To receive an update on behalf of the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime on the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Plan 2021-24.
Under the Police and Reform and Social Responsibility Act the WYCA Mayor must produce a Police and Crime Plan which sets out the strategic policing and crime priorities for West Yorkshire and how she plans to meet them.
The Scrutiny Board (Environment, Housing and Communities) is allocated special responsibility to exercise the functions of a crime and disorder committee through Article 6 of the Constitution. In the context of this responsibility the Scrutiny Board considered an update on the Police and Crime Plan 2021 – 2024.
In attendance for this item were:
· Cllr D Coupar (Executive Member)
· Julie Reid (Head of Police & Crime WYCA)
· Wendy Stevens (Research and Performance Team, WYCA)
· Jonathan Pickles (Policy and Performance Lead, WYCA)
· Fran Sandhu (Policy Manger, WYCA)
· Chief Inspector Lucy Leadbeater (West Yorkshire Police)
· Chief Superintendent Steve Dodds (West Yorkshire Police)
CS Steve Dodds provided introductory comments. He highlighted the work of neighbourhood policing teams and the importance of strong representation in communities.
Members were informed that there has been an increase within West Yorkshire Police of 20 officers within neighbourhood policing, which follows an earlier uplift of 70 patrol officers.
An update was provided on performance in relation to several categories of offences including violence with injury, robbery, theft from motor vehicles and serious violence.
The local partnership approach to tackling anti-social behaviour was explored by the Scrutiny Board, with representatives from West Yorkshire Police outlining the way in which this can facilitate bespoke solutions to challenges in different areas of the city.
An update was provided in relation to the work of the dedicated city centre policing team.
Members considered the local approach to tackling Domestic Violence, noting the importance of daily assessment meetings, which involve a range of partners.
A notable rise in hate crime was highlighted. In response, members were informed there has been an increase in hate co-ordinators in the city and police partners reassured the Scrutiny Board that they continue to work with communities with the aim of building trust and preventing community tension.
Police partners outlined a series of successful operations to tackle organised crime including drug related offences, youth crime and child exploitation.
Members sought an update in relation to work with schools and explored ways in which the police are tackling violence against women and girls.
Julie Reid provided introductory comments noting that the appended report focused on the elements of the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Plan that link to Leeds. She reiterated that the mayoral authority works closely with police and community safety partners to support their work, as well as setting the Police and Crime Plan in accordance with statutory requirements and providing additional funding to support initiatives that reflect the Mayor’s identified priorities.
Cllr Coupar highlighted the importance of partnership working in Leeds and thanked those present for their input into that partnership.
Members were reassured that West Yorkshire Police takes a “strong and consistent” approach to recording crimes.
Enforcement of 20mph speed limits was considered with CS Dodds reiterating the city-wide challenge of balancing police resources with varied and competing demands, risks and threats to safety.
Members of the Scrutiny Board requested clarity regarding the way in which the force aims to enforce 20mph speed limits and the approach to the pursuit of people on vehicles such as quad bikes who are engaging in anti-social behaviour.
Further information was sought in relation to the criteria for resource allocation across the city. Members were informed that Leeds receives around 36% of regional funding due to the assessed levels of risks and threats.
Members were informed that West Yorkshire Police is taking action to improve the diversity of its force, including within senior leadership teams. The importance of consistency of staffing within neighbourhood policing teams was highlighted, with members reiterating the benefit of neighbourhood policing teams developing a strong local knowledge base.
Members were advised that the best contact for queries is the relevant NPT inspector.
Reassurance was received in relation to preparations to prevent anti-social behaviour during the period encompassing bonfire night, Halloween and mischief night.
Members explored the approach to criminal damage at a ward level including graffiti and tagging, highlighting the “pervasive impact” on communities. In response, CS Dodds noted that resource allocation in the city prioritises tackling serious and violent crime, and he highlighted the difficulty of identifying those causing criminal damage through behaviours such as tagging. Members highlighted the challenge of removing graffiti on third party properties.
Ways in which to report crime were discussed and the challenges with recruitment and retention within the contact team at West Yorkshire Police noted.
Julie Reid outlined the way in which the Safer Communities Fund utilises proceeds of crime to support local schemes that reflect the police and crime plan priorities. Members queried whether community committees might be able to apply for a proportion of funding for schemes within their wards and sought further information about whether there may be a mechanism for community committees to allocate a proportion of that funding to groups or projects within their respective areas.
The importance of effective communication between members and their neighbourhood policing teams was discussed along with challenges associated with access to information about local police activity.
RESOLVED – To note the contents of the report.