Up to £500,000 a year in criminal assets is to be given back to communities in West Yorkshire.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns Williamson, yesterday announced details of the Safer Communities Fund, which uses money seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act for community safety initiatives.

Organisations and groups across the county will be able to submit applications of up to £10,000.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: “I have launched the Safer Communities Fund to bring together money seized from criminals across the county into a single community purse. I want to make it easier for local groups and organisations to receive money under the Proceeds of Crime Act and make a difference to the local communities.

“Thousands of pounds recovered from criminals will be made available in four bidding rounds per year. Each submission must meet the priorities and outcomes outlined in my Police and Crime Plan.

“Under current legislation, the Government keeps half of the money seized from criminals in West Yorkshire. I want to see all of that returned to the county. This could potentially double the cash available within my Safer Communities Fund.

“I am leading a nationwide campaign to bring this money back and have launched a petition which I would urge everyone to sign.

“I have written to the Policing and Criminal Justice Minister, Damien Green, to ask that he considers my proposal to spend Proceeds of Crime Money in the areas they were recovered. I have also asked him to look at further amendments that will mean greater powers for police and partners in retrieving ill-gotten gains.

“The Security Minister James Brokenshire, who is responsible for this legislation, has promised to look at my proposals and work with the police to get it right.”

Dee Collins, Deputy Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, said: “We continue to clamp down on those benefiting from criminal activity and the recent launch of Operation Viper has been instrumental in targeting such individuals, whether it is through drugs, firearms or other serious offences.

“We need the support of the local community to identify those who are committing these crimes and living beyond their means. This information will enable us to seize their assets and contribute more money to the Safer Communities Fund.

“Call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111, or the non-emergency number 101.”

Bids for money under the Safer Communities Fund can be made online, or downloaded from the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s website: westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk.