West Yorkshire Police defends leafleting programme after criticism from Labour councillor in Wakefield

West Yorkshire Police has defended a leafleting programme, which it says has led to "several arrests", following criticism that it's taking officers away from tackling crime.

Police say the programme has been successful and has been an important source of local intelligence.
Police say the programme has been successful and has been an important source of local intelligence.

He suggested communities were, as a result, "not getting the support from the police that we should do."

However, police say the leafleting programme, Wakefield Talks, has provided them with valuable intelligence and is giving residents a helpful point of contact with the Force.

The region's new mayor has pledged to increase the number of frontline police officers and staff within the Force.

They've also denied a separate claim that the Airedale ward, just north of Castleford, is set to lose all of its PCSOs. They insist too, that crime is falling in Airedale.

Responding to Coun Isherwood's remarks, which were made at a full council meeting on Wednesday, Inspector Daniel Jones said: “Wakefield Talks is a police-led project in which residents of the Wakefield District area are visited by dedicated neighbourhood resources.

"It involves the completion of a short survey which asks their opinions of the police and what problems and issues there are in the area.

"This information is fed back to the local Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPTs) who can provide a quick response to issues and act upon intelligence.

Councillor Isherwood, who represents the Featherstone ward, made the remarks at a meeting last week.

"Already, officers have carried out speeding operations, drugs warrants and made several arrests due to information received as part of the work invested into Wakefield Talks.

“The operation also gives people a point of contact if they need to report anything to police and all officers have been provided with mental health training to provide support for the most vulnerable people in our communities."

Councillor Isherwood's remarks last week were backed by his Labour colleague Les Shaw, who suggested senior officers at the top of the Force "are not listening to what's going on".

He also suggested the Airedale ward he represents was set to have all of its PCSOs "taken away" from the area.

But Inspector Jones, from Wakefield North East Neighbourhood Policing Team, insisted this was not the case.

He added: "No PCSO’s are due to leave Castleford NPT, which includes Airedale, nor have they expressed an interest in leaving.

"One PCSO left and joined as a police officer at the end of summer and their replacement arrived in the same week.

"Another new PCSO is due to arrive shortly. There has not been a reduction in staffing and it will shortly increase."

Inspector Jones added: "Further to that, crime is actually falling in Airedale – the only rise in crime is comparing acquisitive crime in November to last year when the country was subjected to lockdown regulations.

"Crime in November was higher than last year but it has not returned to the pre-Covid figures and the year to date figures are much lower compared with previous periods."

Local Democracy Reporting Service