'Tackling violent crime will take years' - admits Yorkshire police boss

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A crime commissioner overseeing Yorkshire's largest police force has warned it will take years to tackle violent crime plaguing communities in major cities and towns as well as rural areas.

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson admitted that whilst he welcomed £3.37 million of funding from the Home Office to set up a Violent Reduction Unit in the county to tackle the most serious of crimes, in reality solving the issue is a long-term problem which requires various agencies and communities working together.

A crime commissioner overseeing Yorkshire's largest police force has warned it will take years to tackle violent crime plaguing communities in major cities and towns as well as rural areas.

A crime commissioner overseeing Yorkshire's largest police force has warned it will take years to tackle violent crime plaguing communities in major cities and towns as well as rural areas.

His comments come as latest statistics show violent crime has soared to a new record high in West Yorkshire - with 280 acts of violence recorded each day.

West Yorkshire Police recorded a total of 102,172 cases of violence against the person in 2018 - the highest number since records began in 2007.

Meanwhile, the number of serious crimes involving knives or other sharp objects is also at the highest level for any single year since 2011.

Mr Burns-Williamson admitted the challenges forces across the country are facing surrounding violent crime ahead of a speech at a public law lecture at Leeds Beckett University on Thursday.

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson

He said: "Serious violence blights some of our communities and although the impact is often felt in our large cities, the problem also reaches further into towns and rural areas.

Read more: The impact of knife crime on the streets of Yorkshire

"Any public health approach we take needs to be adopted on a consistent basis locally, but also on a national level investing in preventative measures and early intervention wherever possible.

"Earlier this year, the Home Office announced funding to 18 police force areas to set up Violence Reduction Units, including £3.37m here in West Yorkshire. Whilst this investment is welcome, reducing violence is a long-term challenge requiring sustained resources and partnership working over a number of years to make a lasting impact."

Statistics show that people in West Yorkshire are much more likely to experience violence than the national average, with 44 violence against the person offences per 1,000 people in the county compared to 27 per 1,000 people across England and Wales.

There were 39 homicides in 2018 and 29,214 cases involving violence that caused injury, a rise of 14 per cent compared to 2017, a record high, and 42,901 cases of violence without injury, a rise of 30 per cent, also a record high.

Read more: Huge rise in stalking as violent crime and sexual assaults also increase across Yorkshire - but how does your police force fare?

Last year, 2,715 serious offences in West Yorkshire involved a knife or sharp object. That was up 20 per cent from 2017, and up 106 per cent from April 2010 to March 2011 when the figures were first recorded.

The knife-crimes included eight homicides, eight attempted murders, and 45 rapes and sexual assaults.

As part of his speech to students, Mr Burns-Williamson will also detail other projects running throughout the county in conjunction with West Yorkshire Police, Youth Offending Teams and the Prison Service as part of early intervention projects.

He will also speak about resource challenges police forces have, competing priorities and understanding what a "public health approach" means.

Deveral Capps, Dean of Leeds Law School, said: “Our Law in Practice series provides a great opportunity to network and hear from speakers from a range of backgrounds and contexts.

“We are delighted to welcome Mark to Leeds Law School to continue that tradition of providing insight into developments and key issues of relevance to the legal sector and professional practice.”