This past year or so will go down as a year like no other, and whilst it really is important that we don’t drop our guard at this crucial time, I hope that the upcoming Christmas and New Year period will provide some relief.
Whilst not wishing to focus solely upon the Covid-19 impact, the introduction of a vaccine is certainly good news and we can all hopefully move towards a sense of normality in the coming months. That will only happen though, if we all continue to do our bit. Let’s keep working together to reduce the rates of transmission and we will hopefully come out more quickly and stronger at the other end.
Despite all the difficulties this year, I am really proud of some of the work that we have been able to achieve together, such as the opening of a brand new state of the art Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) for West Yorkshire, the Safer Communities Fund continuing to support hundreds of projects making a real difference across West Yorkshire, bringing new engagement and early intervention projects to our communities to tackle serious violence through the new West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), launching our first Victims and Witnesses Strategy – ‘Supporting People Harmed by Crime’ and many more. You can read more about these initiatives and lots more in my recently released Annual Report.
In the year ahead, the biggest new development is likely to be the devolution deal for West Yorkshire, and the election of a new ‘Metro-Mayor’. This has particular implications for the role of Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, which will become embedded within the office of the new mayor, and there is much work to do to achieve a successful transition and for some of the complexities to be overcome.
We will continue to champion community safety working closely with West Yorkshire Police and our partners, providing support for the most vulnerable and those who are victims of crime, building on the many achievements over the last eight years since being elected into this role.
I couldn’t finish this message without mentioning the truly awe inspiring work and sacrifices made by our many key workers and volunteers during 2020. The same people who will be missing time with loved ones once again over this festive period, while they work to keep us all safe. A big and heartfelt thank you to each and every one of them, from the police, fire & rescue and ambulance services, to the NHS, teachers, shop workers, refuse collectors, delivery workers and all those that have been so brilliant this year.
Wishing you a safe, happy festive season and New Year.
Mark Burns-Williamson OBE
West Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner