West Yorkshire Police ‘good’ at keeping county safe, says watchdog

A West Yorkshire PCSO misused police computers.
A West Yorkshire PCSO misused police computers.

West Yorkshire Police has been rated ‘good’ for the way it keeps people safe - but has been told it has to do more to lower its rising crime rate.

Yorkshire’s biggest police force was given the second highest category of four, for investigating crime, protecting the vulnerable and tackling serious and organised crime in the latest report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.

The force has a good understanding of threats, more work is needed to understand its changing and emerging communities in order to fully assess any future issues.

Mike Cunningham, HMIC

But it was deemed by the watchdog’s inspectors to require improvement in preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour.

In HMIC’s report, published today, the force was said to be doing well at tackling serious and organised crime, including newer threats such as human trafficking, child sex abuse and human trafficking.

Inspectors added that good progress had been made in protecting the vulnerable and supporting victims, with an increase in staff dedicated to safeguarding.

Though it said the force had a good understanding of wider threats, it said that “at a local level it lacks the means to understand its changing and emerging communities”.

Among the issues was that local bobbies on the beat on safer neighbourhood teams “felt neglected and under-supported by the force”, partly due to the high number of officers being moved to other tasks.

West Yorkshire Police was also criticised for ‘poorly structured’ problem-solving practices and a failure to use new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour.

It recorded substantially more crimes than other forces, 92 per 1,000 population compared to an average of 68 in the year to June 30. This prompted claims this year that it was the crime capital of England and Wales, though the force says a rise in offences is largely due to the way they are recorded.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Mike Cunningham said: “I am pleased to report that overall West Yorkshire Police continues to effectively keep people safe and reduce crime.

“The force has a good understanding of threats, more work is needed to understand its changing and emerging communities in order to fully assess any future issues.

“The force is committed to engaging with the public through neighbourhood policing, however this is inconsistent and all communities deserve the same level of service.”

Chief Constable Dee Collins said: “This is a positive report overall and the HMIC’s ‘good’ assessment is a positive reflection of the hard work of our officers and staff in the communities they serve.

“I am particularly pleased at the noted progress we have made around those who are vulnerable and the support we give to victims.

“It is very clear from the report that the policing challenge in West Yorkshire is extremely complex and we must manage significant levels of demand, in the best way possible with the resources we have.

“The recognition of our ability to tackle crime at the most serious end of the scale, along with our improving response to new and emerging threats, is also welcome.

“There are some areas where we still need to improve, such as problem solving, but we have a clear plan and direction of travel over the next five years, to ensure we continue to deliver a service that meets public needs and keeps our communities safe.”