Deputy Mayor's Call on Levelling Up

Deputy Mayor for West Yorkshire calls on Government to make it easier to help keep communities safe as levelling up paper is released

Alison Lowe said that plans around policing and crime were ambitious, but questioned whether they would work in practice.

The paper, “the Government’s proposals for economic and social regeneration as part of its devolution agenda” includes a mission that by 2030, homicide, serious violence, and neighbourhood crime will have fallen, focused on the worst-affected areas. 

The paper states that millions more from the Safer Streets Fund will be invested every year to give Police and Crime Commissioners, local authorities, and also certain civil society organisations in England and Wales the resources they need to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. 

Project ADDER, working in Wakefield, is also set to receive more investment. The programme helps individuals receive effective treatment, with enhanced treatment and recovery provision, including housing and employment support, and improved communication between treatment providers and courts, prisons, and hospitals

Alison said: “While it is good that the Government are looking holistically at place, skills, opportunity, deprivation as the reasons for crime, what does all of this mean in practice?

“They announce all this funding, but we know particularly with Safer Streets Funding that we have previously had limited windows of time to spend money on complex projects, so we wanted a minimum of 18 months to deliver in these areas of funding.

“We need multiyear settlements on huge projects like the Violence Reduction Units (VRU) so our staff can continue working with partners using early intervention and a public health approach to prevent serious and violent crime. Rather than all the uncertainty with short term funding settlements.

“We also need more money from the Government to help keep our communities safe rather than having to raise the policing element of the council tax to ensure we have the resources to police effectively.”

On the development that police officers will gain the power to deal with noise nuisance, she added: “We know how much Anti-Social Behaviour affects people and we hear the impact on how it affects their quality of life significantly. So it is only right this is recognised.

“But I will be interested to know how this works in reality as this puts another pressure on overstretched officers, when really a multiagency response with local authorities is already in place, why are we changing that? And does it escalate issues that could be resolved without involving the police?

“It is unclear what a police officer would be able to do to bring a satisfactory solution to a noise nuisance issue with new powers.   

“We would welcome further clarity on what thresholds for police powers will be.”

She also called for more clarity around the 10-year Drugs Strategy, where the government say they will work intensively with the local authorities of 10-20 areas most affected by prolific neighbourhood crime. 

“We already work with the West Yorkshire VRU to divert young people away from exploitation and criminality that most often starts at the neighbourhood level as well as having Neighbourhood Crime Measures within the new Police and Crime Plan. So how will this announcement complement what we are already doing as a region? I would want to know that?

“So yes, a cautious welcome, but let us see what the detail brings as we know West Yorkshire needs more funding to help us keep communities safe. And I am not convinced this document will be the answer to all or even some of the complex issues we face.

“They announce these developments, but I need to know what this actually means in practice, because until we have that I don’t know the difference any of this will make in West Yorkshire.”