West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns Williamson reflects on a year of policing in the district.

IT has been a busy year with a lot of partnership working in Bradford and beyond, tackling issues including road safety, domestic abuse, attacks on emergency workers and exploring how we further protect vulnerable people.

It has been a challenging year with the awful terror attacks in Manchester and London so it was heart-warming to see communities come together and stand firm against terror, and the Great Get Together held in memory of the inspirational Jo Cox.

My Safer Communities Fund is nearly four years old and I’m delighted at how much it has done for grassroots projects. Since 2014, SCF now has awarded £2,060,804.31 to 463 groups. In 2017, we have awarded funding to 125 groups across West Yorkshire totalling £538,421.89, many in Bradford. Since 2014 we have helped 124 projects in Bradford, awarding £583,644.05 in total. I hope to continue this vital work in the coming year.

I intend to visit the Good Shepherd centre project, helping migrant communities adjust to new homes, providing language lessons and personal safety information.

Lower Grange Community Centre has been funded twice for work with young people around ‘Modern Day Awareness’, providing a youth club and safe space and working with vulnerable people on safe relationships and drugs and alcohol awareness. Bradford Court Chaplaincy Service, supporting vulnerable people and helping them address offending behaviour, has also been successful twice.

Road safety has been at the forefront of much of the work in Bradford, with Operation Steerside which focuses on the ‘Fatal Four’ offences: using a mobile ‘phone while driving, not wearing a seatbelt, drinking and taking drugs, and speeding. I have been impressed by how irresponsible behaviour has been targeted on the district’s roads and look forward to that continuing focus.

I have also been pleased to support two weapons surrenders this year, the second one involved Yorkshire and Humber Regional Policing areas supporting a national firearms surrender to rid the streets of guns and dangerous weapons.

Members of the public were encouraged to take firearms into police stations and the fight against gun crime remains stronger than ever. Working with partners and local communities, we can safeguard, educate and intervene at the earliest opportunity to ensure our communities are safer.

I have spoken frequently about challenges facing policing and West Yorkshire Police with stretched resources and more demands put on officers and staff. I have urged MPs to support me in my call to Government for a fairer funding deal and maintain my pledge to help protect and rebuild Neighbourhood Policing. Work in communities across the district shows there is a real confidence in the public letting us know of any concerns.

Since 2010/11 funding for West Yorkshire has reduced by over 36per cent in real terms and we have seen significant increases in complex demands during this time, including domestic abuse, missing people, serious sexual offences and cyber-crime. It’s heart-warming to see daily how committed West Yorkshire Police officers and staff are as they go about daily business demonstrating their commitment to keeping people safe.

Attacks on emergency workers are hard to fathom. That thoseworking to protect you and nurse you back to health are being spat at, punched, pulled and abused daily is something any right minded member of society would baulk at.

But it is the reality for many. As chairman of the Tri-Services (Police, Fire & Ambulance) Collaboration Board, I know the incredible job emergency workers do running towards danger as they try to keep our communities’ safe. We recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the action West Yorkshire Fire Service can expect the police to take following an attack on staff. I was pleased to be part of this positive action going forward. A similar agreement is being worked on for the Ambulance Service

Partners came together for West Yorkshire Safeguarding Week in October, which saw numerous events in West Yorkshire including excellent work by Bradford Council to educate and raise awareness. There is so much good work in and around Bradford with West Yorkshire Police and partners, I believe we are so much stronger together. Part of my role is to encourage partnership working, which I see as the key to tackling all policing and community safety issues.

* Visit westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk.