Mark Burns-Williamson, the Police & Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire addressed the Beeston Community Forum last Thursday.
The hot topic was the court decision that Leeds United did not have to pay for policing outside the ground at Elland Road. Mr Burns-Williamson revealed that the cost ranged from £40,000 to £100,000 of each home game, depending on who the opposition was. He said:
“I don’t think the balance is right. I will be taking the matter up with the Home Office as it seems grossly unfair in a time of public sector cuts, especially compared to the TV revenue football clubs like Leeds attract.”
Inspector Paul Akerman from Holbeck Neighbourhood Policing Team explained that as well as these costs there were additional costs in policing the city centre and station on match days. The increased numbers of parked cars in the area had a consequent rise in car crime, which was countered again by extra officers on the streets.
Councillor Angela Gabriel added that a condition of the planning permission for the new Divisional Police headquarters on Elland Road is a Match Day Resident Park scheme for Beeston and Holbeck. This will stop fans parking on streets across an area from Dewsbury Road, to Cross Flatts Park, Domestic Street viaduct and Cottingley.
Mark Burns-Willamson was elected Commissioner in November, having been the Chair of the now defunct Police Authority. Since then he has been working on a Policing Plan for West Yorkshire which must take into account a 25% cut in funding from Government over the next four years. He stated that he supports Neighbourhood Policing and will do his best to protect the NPTs within the budget.
In a discussion about public drinking Inspector Akerman reported that the Police were aware of problems in Holbeck Cemetery and would be stepping up patrols. They were also considering a ban on drinking in Cross Flatts Park. He also reported that every off licence in the area had been tested by trading standards twice in the last year to check if they were selling alcohol to underage young people, none had.
The Commissioner was asked whether there was an investigation into child sex grooming going on locally. He declined to answer the specific question, but said:
“Don’t assume this type of grooming only goes on in some parts of West Yorkshire. It goes on across the region.”