Q: WHAT has been the biggest challenge in terms of policing Kirklees in 2012?
A: The biggest challenge in Kirklees has been the variety that policing a large district brings along with the number of changes that are affecting policing nationally. The obvious changes are caused by the economic climate and the significant cuts in the policing budget, but there are others that the public may not be as aware of – Policing and Crime Commissioners, new terms and conditions following the Winsor review of policing, pensions changes under the Hutton review and a new National College of Policing.
Locally Kirklees had a demonstration by the English Defence League in Dewsbury in June, where a large number of police officers from across the force were deployed to support local officers, right through to neighbourhood policing operations such as one in Huddersfield involving 26 search warrants in April, targeting a supplier of cannabis, where over 200 plants were destroyed.
Q: What was the best achievement in policing terms for Kirklees in 2012?
A: The biggest achievement in my mind in 2012 is the reduction in crime that has been achieved this past year and that is despite all the changes above. Having significantly reduced crime in the last financial year (up until March 31, 2012) the division has seen a further reduction in crime of over 3,300 offences to the end of the December – a 15% reduction. Forgetting the figures, for me more importantly, that is 3,300 less victims of crime.
On an individual note, one of our officers, Pc Billy Pringle, was nominated for the BBC 999 awards in the Outstanding Police Officer category in August.
Pc Pringle responded to a 999 call, detained a burglary suspect, and saved the life of the home-owner victim who suffered a heart attack after the ordeal.
This is a great achievement for Pc Pringle and recognition of the hard work the staff continue to do.
Q:What are your views on Police and Crime Commissioners? Do you think it will bring politics into policing?
A: The PCC has brought an element of politics into policing. Although the PCC does not make operational policing decisions, he has been elected by the people of West Yorkshire on a political manifesto and his manifesto will shape the Police and Crime Plan that is produced.
Mr Mark Burns-Williamson was elected last month as the first Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire. He will be responsible for setting priorities for the police force, overseeing its budget and hiring the chief constable.
Q:How do you plan to tackle cuts and reduced resources?
A: The cuts are significant. The exact amount – and over what period – is currently not known as the force awaits clarity from the Government. However, whatever the exact amount is it will be large (in the millions of pounds scale rather than simply hundreds of thousands) and it will mean a smaller number of police buildings and a smaller number of officers over time. There is currently a Kirklees Local Policing Review ongoing, as there are in all districts across West Yorkshire, and that is examining options as to how we re-design the division to make those cuts. No firm plans have yet been made, but I have asked the team to focus on making policing in Kirklees follow these principles:
Local, accessible and flexible ie based on neighbourhood policing
Ensuring we continue to protect the public and look after people
By being as efficient and effective as we possibly can be
Enabling the staff to be the best they can be.
Q: What are the policing priorities for Kirklees for 2013? Are there any initiatives that you can tell us about?
A: The priorities will remain: Reducing crime, increasing public confidence and satisfaction, protecting the vulnerable and making the best use of our resources. In terms of a specific initiative, we are introducing an enhanced patrol strategy called ‘Optimal’ to tackle burglary of people’s houses and ensure we continue to make reductions in those offences.
Q: What is your New Year message for Kirklees residents?
A: Please help us to help you not be a victim of crime. If you are in your home, lock your doors and windows. If you are in your car, take your keys with you and don’t leave valuables on display. If you are out having a drink, please ensure you know your limits and don’t make yourself vulnerable. Most importantly have a happy and peaceful New Year.