Wakefield MP and Council leader demand meeting with Home Secretary over anti-social behaviour fears as police chief insists city is still safe

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Wakefield MP Simon Lightwood and Council Leader Denise Jeffery are calling for action following the results of a “damning” city-wide crime survey.

A senior police chief insists Wakefield continues to be a safe place to live and work.

Mr Lightwood and Coun Jeffery have written a joint letter to Suella Braverman to highlight how criminal behaviour is “blighting” neighbourhoods.

Wakefield MP Simon Lightwood and Council Leader Jeffery have written a joint letter to Home Secretary Suella Braverman to highlight how criminal behaviour is “blighting” neighbourhoods.

The letter states: “Since the by-election in June, the Wakefield constituency office has been inundated with correspondence from constituents detailing the experiences they have had with anti-social and criminal behaviour across Wakefield, Horbury and Ossett.”

Mr Lightwood carried out a survey over the summer to gather information from constituents, which he says produced “stark” results.

The MP said dozens of residents took part and the results included:

– Eight per cent of residents thought their neighbourhood was safer now than in 2010, with 50 per cent believing it was less safe.

Wakefield MP Simon Lightwood and Council Leader Denise Jeffery are calling for action following the results of a “damning” city-wide crime survey.

– 23 per cent said they saw the police weekly or monthly, with 35 per cent saying they did not see them at all.

– The top five anti-social behaviour concerns for residents were dangerous driving (50 per cent of residents), drugs (50 per cent) criminal damage (38 per cent), fly-tipping (38%) and disorderly behaviour (35 per cent).

– 68 per cent of residents wanted to see more CCTV cameras in Wakefield and 56 per cent wanted more neighbourhood watch schemes.

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Wakefield MP Simon Lightwood and Council Leader Denise Jeffery have written a joint letter to Suella Braverman to highlight how criminal behaviour is “blighting” neighbourhoods.

The letter continues: “As you will be aware, 1.3 million incidents of anti-social behaviour were reported nationally last year.

“Despite the pressing need to address this, neighbourhood policing has been devastated by successive cuts from central government.

“There are 6,000 fewer officers in neighbourhood teams than there were in 2015, leaving them badly overstretched.

“This has led to a lack of faith in community policing.”

Chief Superintendent Richard Close, of Wakefield District Police, believes Wakefield, Horbury and Ossett do continue to be safe places to live and work.

“People are increasingly looking for a concrete plan to reduce crime.

“That plan must start with more police officers on our streets, working alongside local authorities to prevent and tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.”

Coun Jeffrey said: “The views of citizens are really important, and they clearly feel that more needs to be done.

“More than ever before, investment is needed in both policing and critical local authority services.

“We want the Home Office to do more for our communities and having a meeting with us is a start in tackling this problem.”

Mr Lightwood said: “Anti-social behaviour is blighting neighbourhoods across Wakefield, Horbury and Ossett and people are sick of living in its shadow.

“I implore the Home Secretary takes our request for a meeting seriously. Enough is enough and action is required now.”

Chief Superintendent Richard Close, of Wakefield District Police, said: “Our officers speak regularly with residents and we are working with partners at Wakefield Council to jointly address the concerns we know they have regarding anti-social behaviour (ASB).

“The causes of ASB are complex and driven by factors including deprivation, increased population, lack of opportunities for some of the predominantly young people involved in it, and other concerns such as drugs and alcohol abuse.

“Tackling the root causes of ASB is an issue which goes much wider than policing and cannot be solved just by police action.

“These underlying causes are a matter for the whole partnership and I can assure residents we are committed to playing our part in this work.

Chief Supt Close added: “Wakefield, Horbury and Ossett do continue to be safe places to live and work, but there always will however be ASB and crime occurring.

“I urge residents to continue making reports to us to allow us to investigate and continue work to solve problems in their areas.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Anti-social behaviour is a scourge on communities, people rightly want to see police in their neighbourhood confronting crime and making streets safer.

“Our Beating Crime plan sets out the action we are taking to achieve this and sits alongside our recruitment of 20,000 additional officers across England and Wales.

“West Yorkshire Police have already recruited 744 additional uplift officers as at September 30, 2022.

“We have given local areas the powers and tools to tackle anti-social behaviour, and provided funding through the Safer Streets Fund as well as putting in place measures to ensure that victims have their voice heard when it comes to dealing with crime in their community.”

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