There is no complacency when it comes to tackling child exploitation in West Yorkshire.
That’s the message from West Yorskhire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson who is celebrating two years in the post.
Earlier this year, Mr Burns-Williamson set aside £3.5 million for tackling child sexual exploitation (CSE), cyber crime and human trafficking.
And earlier this month it was announced that West Yorkshire Police is to spend £1.5 million on a specialist unit to investigate CSE. Mr Burns-Williamson confirmed the unit will assist with CSE investigations in Calderdale.
“These investigators will come in and make an immediate impact in not only tackling historic cases, but relieve some of the pressure on some of the current cases,” he said.
“There’s no complacency at all when it comes to protecting victims of CSE.”
In Calderdale, 31 men are on bail for alleged offences against two girls. Mr Burns-Williamson expects an announcement on the progress of that case in the New Year.
During his time in office, Mr Burns-Williamson, who said the commissioner role could be scrapped if Labour wins the next election, has increased resources to prevent domestic abuse and reduce burglary across the county, protected frontline policing, set up a “one-stop shop” website for victims and witnesses of crime, given thousands of pounds to 130 community groups recovered from Proceeds of Crime and more.
However he said there were some tough decisions ahead, whether he is the one to make them or not, with policing budgets to be squeezed.
“So far in West Yorkshire we have lost nearly 2,000 police officers and staff and unfortunately that’s going to continue,” he said. “By 2017/18 40 per cent of the West Yorkshire Police budget will have to go. That’s the stark reality and there’s some big decisions to be made. All I can do at a local level is work with partners to see what integrated services we can offer.”