Safety is priority says the Leeds based Asian community … A review by Prof Geetha Upadhyaya
Following the recent spate of statistically confirmed violent burglaries, the ‘safety for all’ campaign by Leeds based Asian communities led to an open forum meeting which focussed on the steps to tackle these criminal activities, identify the roles, responsibilities and accountability to achieve safety for all.
The meeting held on 18th May 2018 in St. Chad Parish Hall, Leeds was attended by more than 150 people of the community and televised by BBC North was ably supported by All Friends Group, Leeds.
The comprehensive panel included, Fabian Hamilton – MP Leeds North East (Labour Party), Mark Burns-Williamson – the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, Simon Jessup – Detective Chief Inspector Head of Reactive CID, Leeds District Senior Leadership Team, Richard Horn – Inspector Neighbourhood Police Team, North East and Cllr Peter Harrand – Councillor Alwoodley Ward (Conservative Party).
The campaign highlighted the plight of the Leeds based Indian / Asian families living in fear of violent burglaries and physically and mentally traumatised.
‘Where does the buck stop in combating criminals and gang members, via proven actions, restore confidence in the community and how can the community contribute in improving the situation’ asked the prominent representatives of the Leeds Asian community.
The statistical evidence on community crimes quoted in the BBC 1 Panorama programme ‘Police Under Pressure’, aired on 16th May 2018 and the report titled “The Crime Map of Britain” published on 22nd June 2017 by the Sun newspaper was presented to the panel.
The shocking 2014-17 statistics revealed that there has been a 21% increase recorded crime at national level, whereas 11% fewer criminals have been charged for conviction according to the BBC 1 programme ‘Police under Pressure’.
The past three years saw a rapid increase in violent crimes. At a national level, there was 41% increase of rape cases and 15% increase of homicide cases.
West Yorkshire with one of the largest police forces also has one of the highest crime rates and is home to an estimated 250-320 criminals on the run with more than 50 gangs actively in operation. Failure of the police to respond within the stipulated time was more than 20% and was blamed on resource limitations.
In September 2017, the BBC reported a rising trend in jewellery burglaries and as high as 2 burglaries per week was reported in South Asian homes in Milton Keynes. In the last financial year, the London Metropolitan Police estimated that 50 million pound worth jewellery was stolen in London based south Asian homes.
At the meeting, a 70-year-old lady residing in Woodlea area of Leeds, narrated her horror story of being held captive with a screwdriver pointed at her neck when her house was burgled.
During the forum open discussions which followed, Mark Burns-Williamson, acknowledged the increase in the overall local and national crime rate. He added that the recent priorities and budget to fund more police constables, should help to bring the situation under control and there was also a community funding for any additional support.
Simon Jessup highlighted the role of community in reporting suspicious people, neighbourhood watch, securing houses, etc and stated that with the introduction of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), robbers could be apprehended before or after crimes are committed.
Richard Horn, encouraged the community to familiarise themselves with the Neighbourhood police team (NPT) and engage with the PCSO on reporting incidences and use preventative measures such as avoiding usage of social media for posting any images which will attract the attention of thieves.
Fabian Hamilton balanced his views by stating that violent crime targeted at Asian homes is both a perception and a reality. Sympathising with the community he asserted that living in fear is impossible and reassured the community by offering help for his electoral ward.
He reiterated the need of increase in funding to support police force and suggested that setting up an Advisory Surgery, involving district burglary team, applying for the grant may help. He also emphasized on funding linked key performance indicators to understand the status of the situation.
Peter Harrand, mentioned that the concerns must be appropriately addressed and enlightened the community about police clinics set up on the first Monday of the month in TreeTops Community Centre, Shadwell Lane and urged people of the community to meet up and get to know the local PCSO’s.
The community were also given an opportunity to air and share their views and concerns.
The meeting ended on a positive note with the panellists concurring that any unlawful act of any magnitude is of concern to all. Hence there must be concerted effort to prevent such incidences and ensure safety of all.
Although the Police and Crime Commissioner did not think there was any evidence to indicate that there is an increase in Asian household burglaries, he accepted that the community were unsure of the safety provisions.
The members of the community who attended the meeting felt that this first meeting was helpful, provided the much-needed interface with the police in monitoring and reporting of crime but accepted that there was much to be done in terms of achieving the required standards of safety and reinstating confidence in the community.
Mr. Fabian Hamilton MP was reassuring with the promises of support for the community in dealing with any future incidents of robbery, but noted that more needs to be done and was keen to give the officers and government an opportunity to prove their willingness to help our community.
The community hoped that better communications and active contacts will be made so that the feeling of safety is regained and they were committed to being focussed on the issue of safety by rearranging meetings at regular intervals until resolved.
Courtesy: Dr Olivia Pereira (Consultant Physician& Endocrinologist, Mid Yorkshire NHS trust) and Mr Bhavin Shukla (IT – Data Management Consultant)
Campaign and Programme organisation :
Courtesy: All Friends Group, Leeds and Volunteers
The link for full report can be found at: