Yvette Cooper opens Castleford community policing hub in fight against town centre crime
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The shadow Home Secretary said the new initiative could become a model for fighting crime in town centres across the country.
Castleford saw a spike in the number of reported offences in January, with shoppers saying they were too afraid to go into the town centre.
The facility, in Castleford’s indoor market, will be run in partnership between Wakefield Council and West Yorkshire Police.
Members of the public will be able to speak to neighbourhood policing officers to report incidents.
Officers from the council’s enforcement team and Wakefield District Housing
are also expected to be based at the hub, which will open from 10am to noon, Monday to Saturday.
Ms Cooper, MP for Normanton, Castleford and Pontefract, officially opened the new hub today (October 13).
She said: “Castleford town centre, like lots of town centres across Yorkshire, has been hit by things like shoplifting, anti-social behaviour and crime while at the same time losing front-line officers over the last 13 years.
“We have started working with the local police and Wakefield Council to get more officers back into the town centre.
“We want to get people back into our town centres and for them to be places that can be enjoyed again.”
The Labour MP said similar facilities could appear in towns across the country if the party wins the next general election.
She said: “It’s about getting information so we can go after the criminals and go after the people who are causing anti-social behaviour.
“It’s about offering support for the shop owners and market stall holders.
“We have started to get the expert police officers back in to the town centre and that has made a difference.
“But they should not have been cut in the first place.
“As Labour’s shadow Home Secretary I’m campaigning for this to happen right across the country.”
According to West Yorkshire Police figures, Castleford town centre saw a nearly 90 per cent reduction in recorded crime since the start of the year.
In January, there were 79 offences recorded in the town centre, which was reduced to 17 by August.
Over the same period, reported shoplifting offences fell from 43 to nine.
There were 11 criminal damage offences and eight business burglaries in January, compared to two and three respectively in August.
Wakefield Council leader Denise Jeffery revealed last year how shoppers had told her they felt too scared to go into Castleford as they feared for their safety.
Coun Jeffery, a councillor for Castleford Central and Glasshoughton ward, said she had also witnessed anti-social behaviour first hand.
Urgent talks were held last autumn between business owners and Alison Lowe, West Yorkshire’s deputy mayor for policing and crime, over concerns that the issue was damaging local businesses.
Coun Jeffery said: “At the start of the year Castleford was not in a good place.
“We had a lot of anti-social behaviour and a lot of break-ins.
“But the council and the police came together to create this hub after Yvette had contacted me about it.
“I think her idea is that when she is Home Secretary she is going to have them all across the country.
“From talking to people, the feeling seems to be that things really are happening in Castleford and it’s making a difference.”
Chief Insp Emma Hooks, neighbourhoods and partnerships lead for the Wakefield district, said patrols have increased in Castleford since the start of the year.
Work has also been done to increase the number criminal behaviour orders issued to offenders.
Chief Insp Hooks said the new hub will complement the work officers had been doing in the area.
She said: “A lot of work has been done.
“It is about building confidence in the community again.
“We want to improve the way people can report things to us.
“It is a multi agency hub and we are keen for partners to be part of this.”