AS West Yorkshire Police braces itself in the wake of £90million cuts in funding over the next four years, Crime Reporter Louise Cooper interviews Huddersfield North Inspector Mohammed Rauf to reflect on the challenges of the last 12 months and to hear how the Neighbourhood Policing Teams will continue to work and enhance the communities they serve.
POLICING in Huddersfield can be fraught with problems – but is also very rewarding.
And a senior officer believes the continued work of Neighbourhood Policing teams, working alongside the community, can continue to be a success.
Insp Mohammed Rauf gave an honest appraisal of the challenges answering a series of questions posed by the Examiner.
Q.What has been the toughest part of policing Huddersfield in 2011?
A:.“We ended 2010 and began 2011 with the sad loss of one our officers, Pc Jon Hobman, who passed away in his sleep at home.
“Jon was a much loved officer who will always been in our thoughts every Christmas and New Year.
“Another of our officers, who attended a routine call in Kirkheaton area in the new year, was shot while performing his duties.
“Fortunately the officer was not seriously harmed, but this was very traumatic time for him and his partner as well as fellow police officers in Kirklees.’’
In this incident Alistair Bell, 42, died after he was shot by a police marksman after an armed police siege at his home in Cockley Hill Lane in December 2010.
He shot a police officer who had called at the house to arrest him. Police marksmen surrounded the house for several hours as Mr Bell fired several shots. He was then shot dead by a police marksman.
An investigation is still being carried out by the Independent Police Complaints Commission
Insp Rauf added: “Every day is different when policing, not only Kirklees but anywhere. Throughout the year we have dealt with the very serious incidents as well as some people may perceive as minor.
“However, each incident will have affected somebody in some way and that includes police staff and officers.
“We have strength from within our organisation, our partner agencies and, most importantly, our communities to deal with everything that we face.”
What are the main hotspot areas in policing at the moment?
“Burglary continues to be a concern not only for Kirklees but for the force and country as a whole.
“We have a number of safeguards in place to deal with the problem ranging from targeting and personally visiting known criminals and their associates on a daily basis. We all need to help each other.
“Areas with an active Neighbourhood Watch Scheme in place are very good in tackling crime and I would encourage everybody to report suspicious activity an behaviour to the police.
Q. Do you feel that public perception of the police is changing?
A. Huddersfield North is a very diverse area and I am also very proud of the 80.9% of whom, when surveyed, feel that people in the area live together harmoniously which is significantly higher than other areas.
Confidence in the police is higher now than it has ever been and satisfaction in how police officers in Kirklees deal with members of the public who have reported incidents is at an all time high.
Due to extensive media coverage and police transparency, the public is very aware of the police response to incidents across the country and we are acutely aware of the impact of this on our communities across Kirklees. I am more than confident that in Kirklees we are very community focused and are very professional in our response to incidents.
What is the biggest challenge to policing the division in 2012?
“Our main priority is the safety and welfare of our communities and we have strength in numbers by working in partnership with other agencies.
“Despite fears of faltering economy and reports of a reduction in public spending, I am confident that we have the means and to keep our service to our communities at an optimum level.
“We still and always will need to encourage everybody to play their part in keeping all our communities safe.”
Q. How are resources positioned for 2012?
Our Chief Constable, Sir Norman Bettison, has assured us that Neighbourhood policing is here for good and in Huddersfield North I have seen an increase in staffing levels. Furthermore in the New Year we will see two new PCSOs join the team.
“This will allow me to offer an enhanced service to the community.
Q. Are there any new initiatives which for 2012?
“The police service is continuing to evolve and we endeavour to search for new ideas and initiatives.
“We have a depth of knowledge within Kirklees due to our diverse workforce and continually seek effective ways of bringing this to bear.
“We also have our voluntary sector who provide an invaluable service to our communities and also bring with them new ideas.
“I have worked for Huddersfield North NPT for just over three years which incorporates Lindley, Ashbrow and Greenhead Wards and I am extremely proud of the way my staff have responded to a whole host of complex and sometimes difficult and demanding incidents.’’
THERE are seven neighbourhoods: Batley, Birstall & Birkenshaw; Dewsbury & Mirfield; Huddersfield South; Huddersfield North; Kirkburton & Denby Dale; Spen Valley and
Each Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) consists of an inspector, several sergeants, Pcs and Police Community Support Officers that get to know a particular area and the local people.
Neighbourhood Policing is the bedrock of the service to the public. It has three aims:
To provide dedicated and accountable teams with local ownership.
An intelligence-led targeting of the problems that matter most to local people,
To take joint action by the police, partner agencies and the public.
To find out your local NPT go to http://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/npt/Division.asp?id=9