Sheffield anti-crime charity liquidated after loss of European funding

PUAC chief executive David Ransom with Med Hughes, then Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, in 2011.
PUAC chief executive David Ransom with Med Hughes, then Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, in 2011.
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A Yorkshire crime-fighting charity has gone into liquidation after one of its major sources of funding was withdrawn by the European Commission.

Sheffield-based People United Against Crime (PUAC), which works across Yorkshire and the Humber to “reduce crime and the fear of crime”, entered creditors’ voluntary liquidation in February, The Yorkshire Post can reveal.

The charity “simply ran out of money” while waiting for funds to come through from the European Commission after auditors announced they would be inspecting its Business Crime Reduction Centre (BCRC) project.

The project involved training up PCSOs at Yorkshire’s four police forces who would then raise awareness about the growing threat of cyber-crime among businesses in the region.

It is understood that seven projects in Yorkshire were inspected by European auditors last year. A report expected in October didn’t arrive and part of the grant from the European Commission was not paid while it was pending.

Former chief executive David Ransom said: “Large institutions like universities and local authorities can withstand these kind of delays but smaller charities don’t have the capacity.”

He added: “We knew going into this that it would be subject to rigorous audit, it is the public’s money.”

In a statement, Andy McGill and Matt Dunham, restructuring and recovery specialists from accountancy and investment management group Smith & Williamson, said: “The directors instructed us following the loss of one of their major sources of funding, the European Commission, which left the company facing cash flow issues.

“Regrettably, despite attempting to continue its activities without this source of funding, the charity was unable to do so and all five members of staff have now been made redundant.

“We would stress that we are working closely with the charity’s stakeholders to limit the issues arising from the difficult situation, which we are doing our best to manage, despite the inevitable challenges.”

A spokesman for Smith & Williamson declined to reveal the amount of money owed by the charity, but said: “We are now implementing a strategy to try to maximise any return to the creditors.”

A spokeswoman for the European Commission said the total grant given to PUAC for the Business Crime Reduction Centre was £2.5 million and that the outstanding claim is for £220,000, or nine per cent of the total.

She said: “The Business Crime Reduction Centre’s activities, run by the organisation People United Against Crime is the subject of an on-going audit. The audit is not yet concluded and it is therefore not appropriate to discuss any details of the case at this time.”

BCRC, which was given £4.2 million of funding in 2012, was part funded by the four Yorkshire forces, who each carried the scheme out differently in their areas.

The liquidation of People United Against Crime was discussed at a recent meeting of the Yorkshire and the Humber regional collaboration board, where chief constables and police commissioners discuss ways of working together.

During the meeting in February, in minutes seen by The Yorkshire Post, South Yorkshire chief constable David Crompton, who is one of the directors of the charity, said insolvency action was underway but that this would not affect the employment of the PCSOs.

South Yorkshire Police said in a statement that all of the “contracted outputs” of the Business Crime Reduction Centre had been achieved and that PCSOs working on the project returned to normal duties.

A spokeswoman said: “PUAC was a registered charity and company limited by guarantee, governed by a board of directors. The Directors of PUAC took the decision to put the organisation into creditor’s voluntary liquidation because of delays in project payments and uncertainties over the long term future of the charity.”