Shock po­lice fig­ures over miss­ing peo­ple

Yorkshire Post - - FRONT PAGE - CLAIRE WILDE AND STU­ART MINT­ING ■ Email: claire.wilde@jpress.co.uk ■ Twit­ter: @ClaireWildeYP

CRIME: The amount of po­lice time spent look­ing for miss­ing peo­ple has been branded “star­tling” by West Yorkshire’s Po­lice and Crime Com­mis­sioner.

The force spent 18,700 days of of­fi­cer time try­ing to find peo­ple who had dis­ap­peared in the year to April, which com­mis­sioner Mark Burns-Wil­liamson called “a star­tling statis­tic”.

THE AMOUNT of po­lice time spent look­ing for miss­ing peo­ple has been branded “star­tling” by West Yorkshire’s Po­lice and Crime Com­mis­sioner.

The force spent 18,700 days of of­fi­cer time try­ing to find chil­dren and adults who had dis­ap­peared in the 12 months to April, which com­mis­sioner Mark Burns-Wil­liamson called “a star­tling statis­tic”.

Speak­ing at a meet­ing of the West Yorkshire Po­lice and Crime Panel in Wake­field yes­ter­day, he said the size of the chal­lenge was “pretty stark”.

Chief Con­sta­ble Dee Collins added: “This is a huge, huge is­sue for us.”

About two-thirds of miss­ing peo­ple are un­der 18 and more than a third miss­ing chil­dren are in care, the meet­ing heard.

Mr Burns Wil­liamson said he was con­cerned at the grow­ing num­ber of pri­vate chil­dren’s homes as well as those un­reg­u­lated by in­spec­tors Of­sted as they look af­ter young peo­ple aged 16 and over.

He said po­lice bosses were “try­ing to un­der­stand how these places were be­ing man­aged”.

He said preda­tors were known to tar­get young peo­ple liv­ing in chil­dren’s homes and the pri­or­ity was “to try to pre­vent ex­ploita­tion, whether it is sex­ual or po­ten­tially con­nected to mod­ern slav­ery or county lines”.

Mr Burns-Wil­liamson said West Yorkshire Po­lice wanted more in­volve­ment in de­ci­sions about which homes young peo­ple were placed in.

The meet­ing also dis­cussed ris­ing lev­els of crime, in­clud­ing vi­o­lent in­ci­dents, knife crime, rob­beries, ac­quis­i­tive crime and sex­ual of­fences.

Mr Burns-Wil­liamson said: “It is across a num­ber of crime cat­e­gory ar­eas and it is a con­cern that we have seen this in­crease.”

Vic­tim sat­is­fac­tion lev­els have con­tin­ued to de­cline over the past few years, the meet­ing was told.

A quar­ter of vic­tims of crime are now un­sat­is­fied with the re­sponse they get from po­lice, with panel mem­bers say­ing the im­pact of squeezed bud­gets was be­ing felt.

Mr Burns-Wil­liamson said: “Each dis­trict, you will see, is un­for­tu­nately show­ing drops in lev­els of con­fi­dence around not just polic­ing but also com­mu­nity safety part­ner­ship ac­tiv­ity. I think there are a num­ber of rea­sons for that.”

Mean­while, squab­bling be­tween NHS ser­vices and a po­lice force over deal­ing with peo­ple at cri­sis point is caus­ing “more harm than can be mea­sured”, a sep­a­rate meet­ing heard.

North Yorkshire County coun­cil­lors ex­pressed ex­as­per­a­tion af­ter hear­ing from both the county’s po­lice and crime com­mis­sioner’s of­fice and Tees, Esk and Wear Val­ley NHS Trust that an agree­ment had been cre­ated specif­i­cally to counter con­fu­sion over men­tal health roles.

A meet­ing of the au­thor­ity’s scru­tiny of health com­mit­tee heard while the in­crease on de­mand on North Yorkshire Po­lice re­lated to men­tal health had nearly dou­bled in the last cou­ple of years, a lack of “health-based places of safety” to take peo­ple to meant po­lice were spend­ing hours trans­port­ing them across the county.

Mem­bers were told de­spite po­lice ve­hi­cles be­ing less than ideal for trans­port­ing peo­ple with men­tal health is­sues, last year po­lice took 52 per cent of peo­ple to a place of safety, due to am­bu­lance short­ages.

A re­port stated: “In­ter-agency squab­bling over who should take pri­macy, who should trans­port, who should re­tain own­er­ship is not in the best in­ter­est of the per­son in cri­sis and causes more harm than can be mea­sured.”

It is a con­cern that we have seen this [crime] in­crease. Mark Burns-Wil­liamson, West Yorkshire Po­lice and Crime Com­mis­sioner.

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