West Yorkshire Police are to launch a new unit targeting traffickers of people into the county.
It is thought to be the third of its kind in the country and will work nationally and West Yorkshire to fight the issue identified as a priority by Police and Crime Commissioner Mark- Burns Williamson.
In addition, the force is to work with charity Hope for Justice and other agencies in a West Yorkshire Anti-Trafficking Network which will train almost 3,500 staff on how to spot signs of trafficking.
Human trafficking is a vile crime, and the resources we are dedicating to this new unit makes clear how determined we are to tackle it and bring those responsible to justice. Last year the number of human trafficking victims referred by West Yorkshire Police to the national referral mechanism doubled from 2013 from 42 to 84, showing the scale of the problem, but also demonstrating that victims are more willing to come to us. We have been working closely with Hope For Justice to support these victims and also secure evidence against those abusing them. What this new team will do is give us extra capability to investigate the larger organised crime gangs bringing trafficking victims into our region, and to provide extra support to divisions managing human slavery investigations locally.
The creation of this dedicated response unit shows how West Yorkshire Police is leading the way in helping victims of human trafficking. Those being helped by the unit will then be supported by the 3,500 people being trained by the WYATN to put their lives back together and it means victims are subsequently more confident in coming forward to the police. Training with front line staff around human trafficking has created an increased understanding of the signs of this crime and its implications, but there is more we need to do and this dedicated response unit is part of that, as it is targeting those perpetrators ruining people’s lives with this awful crime. They need to know they have no place to hide, and victims need to know that in West Yorkshire the resources and support are in place to protect them and that is why it was made a priority within this year’s Police and Crime Plan.
Mr Burns-Williamson said: “
Police killer David Bieber who gunned down PC Ian Broadhurst in Leeds on Boxing Day 11 years ago has received more than £250,000 in legal aid, according to figures released by the Ministry of Justice. Former US marine Bieber is serving a minimum 37 year sentence for the murder of 34-year-old PC Broadhurst in 2003. Following his trial in 2004, Bieber has launched a string of unsuccessful human rights cases from jail - all on legal aid.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: “It is cases just like this - where a convicted killer has used taxpayers’ money on speculative court cases to try and challenge their prison status - that made me determined to make big changes to the system. We have now changed the rules to ensure legal aid resources are only available when really necessary.”
An inspection into West Yorkshire Police has found its response to child protection issues to be 'inconsistent'.Read the full story ›
West Yorkshire Police received more than 3,500 emergency and non-emergency calls during the 24 hour period from 7am on New Year's Eve to 7am on New Year's Day - making it one of their busiest days of the year.
A Force spokesman said that whilst demand was high, the generally good spirits of party-goers kept the calls for service down to manageable levels.
Officers responded to 1,879 separate incidents of which almost 900 were either emergency (468) or priority (410) incidents.
The force dealt with a broad range of incidents including assaults, domestic disputes, an attack on a cashpoint in Leeds, vehicle pursuits and many other matters.
The West Yorkshire Police spokesman said the force had plans in place to meet the increasing demand and extra officers were on the ground supporting communities by being in the right place at the right time.
"The plan ensured that despite the increases in calls for service, the West Yorkshire public were able to enjoy their New Year celebrations in safe public environments, whilst their local police dealt with the numerous calls for service from the residential community."
Government cuts to policing budgets have been criticised by the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire.
The Home Office police grant figures released today mean that West Yorkshire Police has to find more than £33.8million in savings next year, on top of the £103m made in the last three years.
The overall cut by 2015/16 is £150m with a further cut of 5.1per cent which equates to £16.2million of savings needing to be found over the next 12 months.The overall level of cuts needed by 2016/17 is now forecast at around £163.5million.
PCC Mark Burns-Williamson slammed the latest cuts which he said did not recognise the reality of policing on the streets, and the levels of demand faced by forces like West Yorkshire Police:
These continued and relentless cuts are deep and damaging and go too far.
West Yorkshire’s share of top slicing the core budget equates to more than £1million in 2015/16 and this is much more than anticipated and I feel we are being penalised yet again. This money needs to go towards frontline policing to help people feel safe, not Government grants to other organisations.
There are only so many efficiencies that the police force can make, with officer and staff numbers continually dropping as the government keeps on changing the goalposts every year and potentially putting communities at more risk.
Police have arrested two men on suspicion of burglary after receiving a report of a garage being used as a 'chop shop' in Bradford.
Officers raided the garage in Banner Street at about 2.25pm on Monday, 8 December, and found vehicles and vehicle parts at the location.
One of the vehicles was a BMW 520, which had been stolen from Pendragon Lane in Bradford earlier this month.
Two other stolen vehicles were identified and parts of three other cars were also recovered.
A 22-year-old man and a 25-year-old man were arrested and later released on bail pending further enquiries.
"I would like to thank the member of the public who brought this illegal operation to our attention and would appeal to the general public to look out for premises, particularly industrial units, being used as 'chop shops'.
"The kind of things to look out for are suspicious activity around motor vehicles, high-value cars that are apparently new, frequent movements in and out, and vehicle parts which have been scattered around the premises.
"Handling stolen goods is a serious offence and we will do all we can to disrupt criminals who aim to profit from people's misery."
Police are appealing for witnesses after a robbery on Owl Lane, Ossett on Friday 28 November.
The incident happened at 10.40am when two males broke into the house and searched the downstairs before moving upstairs and demanding that a 16 year old girl in the property show them were the valuables were. They then made off with cash and jewellery.
"Thankfully the victim was not hurt during this incident but was left very shaken by it. I would appeal to anyone who saw two males acting suspiciously in the area to get in contact."
West Yorkshire Police is giving people the chance to hand over guns and other weapons.
The firearms amnesty starts tomorrow and lasts for ten days. People will be able to hand in weapons without facing prosecution.
Police have released CCTV images of two men they want to trace in connection with a serious sexual assault on a woman in Leeds.
The 19-year-old victim had been at the University of Leeds Student Union on the evening of Friday, November 7.
In the early hours of Saturday, she became separated from her friends and met two men in the venue.
The three went to a house in the local area where she was subjected to a serious sexual assault.
"We urgently need to identify these men and I would urge anyone who recognises them to contact us immediately."
West Yorkshire Police is to set up a dedicated team of officers to deal with child sexual exploitation.
The unit of twenty officers, costing £1.5m, will be embedded in the five policing areas across the county.
And in another development, hoteliers and guest house owners in Calderdale are being asked to play their part in the crackdown. Frazer Maude has this exclusive report.