'Room for improvement' on homelessness, West Yorkshire PCC says

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West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has said he wants to improve the region's record on homelessness and street begging.

Rough sleeping is estimated to have risen by around 30 per cent across Yorkshire in the last five years, while at least 16 homeless people have died in the county since October 2017.

Homelessness has risen sharply in recent years.

Homelessness has risen sharply in recent years.

Mark Burns-Williamson said that the police force was committed to tackling the problem, but suggested that austerity was hampering the efforts of the public sector.

Asked at a PCC panel meeting how the police was working with local authorities and the voluntary sector on the issue, Mr Burns-Williamson said: "It's very sad that in this day and age we're talking about huge increases in homelessness and in the use of food banks.

"On homelessness there's always room for improvement, but some of that is down to a lack of resources and availability among other partners, and not just those of the police."

Touching on the issue of aggressive begging, the PCC also said that officers were aware that some beggars may "come into an area from outside" to ask the public for cash.

Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson left, with West Yorkshire Police's temporary chief constable, John Robins

Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson left, with West Yorkshire Police's temporary chief constable, John Robins

He added: "We all know about the problems the high street is facing at the moment with shop closures.

"It's important we help make these areas places where the public they can go."

Local Democracy Reporting Service