THIS week is West Yorkshire’s Safeguarding Week, tackling and raising awareness of such issues as mental health problems and domestic abuse, and providing guidance on scams and doorstep crime.

All local safeguarding boards and community safety partnerships across the region have joined forces with West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson and West Yorkshire Police to hold workshops and events aimed at informing the public and professionals about how to protect the most vulnerable across the county.

Facebook Live broadcasts will be held throughout the week, starting with Mr Burns-Williamson and Superintendent Darren Minton, of West Yorkshire Police’s Safeguarding Unit, highlighting the work being done to keep people safe.

Here, Mark Burns-Williamson tells us why Safeguarding Week affects everyone.

“WHEN you hear on the news about cyber-crime, or an elderly person being targeted by doorstep scammers, or a case of a child being failed by the system, or child sexual exploitation being missed, you may think it’s truly awful.

But unless it directly impacts on you and your family, it is sadly another daily news item, not day to day reality.

What we are trying to achieve this week, with Safeguarding Week, is to highlight that actually safeguarding is ‘Everybody’s Business’.

Safeguarding people was considered the greatest priority by people responding to my ‘Your Priorities, Your Plan’ consultation, with 70per cent of people saying it was important to them.

All five district councils have come together with West Yorkshire Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for a campaign to raise awareness and highlight that we all have a responsibility to safeguard within our communities.

Whether that is suspicions around someone you know being abused, or controlled, or how to access support for you or a loved one or a friend, then safeguarding affects you. It could be around online bullying, suspicions around someone being groomed, how to cope if your loved one has dementia or what to do to access support around a Forced Marriage.

Partnership work is crucial in ensuring communities feel safe and this week is a perfect example of how local safeguarding boards and community safety partnerships have come together to raise awareness about what is available and happening in your area.

The topics above are just a fraction of what will be covered around the district. I urge you to visit the council’s website and Twitter feed to get involved in a workshop that interests you.

See what is on offer in your area to get support, learn about protecting yourself and others, and above all know what services are there for you when you need them.

As Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) I do lots of partnership work with local authorities around priorities within my Police and Crime Plan, including domestic abuse, community cohesion, child sexual abuse, cyber crime and forced marriage. But weeks such as this are so important to highlight just what services are on offer in your district, for professionals and for the public, to learn more around safeguarding topics to inform and engage.

A Serious Case Review happened in Bradford recently involving a young boy. This awful case demonstrated how anyone from any background or gender can be at risk and affected by grooming and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).

It is up to those with Safeguarding responsibilities to ensure that our most vulnerable are protected, feel safe and are listened to. BLAST, a sexual health organisation, is holding a session for parents and/or foster carers who have teenage sons so they can recognise warning signs of CSE in boys and young men. It will cover spotting signs of grooming and how to reduce the risks and who to talk to about it. If that workshop makes one person feel they are not alone and where they can access the help available, it is worth it.

Work done in communities around tackling Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the focus of an event aimed at professionals and the community, while schools will be shown exactly what is expected of them regarding online safety.

Members of the public wanting to increase their knowledge of dementia and how it affects perception and behaviour and how we can better support people with dementia is the focus of another event.”

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