Police have reported a substantial reduction in violent offences against women and girls in Huddersfield town centre.
Kirklees Police have deployed various crime-fighting initiatives to protect women enjoying a night out and make them feel safer.
More night-time marshals, drugs dogs, a dedicated safety bus and the Ask for Angela scheme have all helped cut town centre crime figures, according to the latest data released by West Yorkshire Police.
Kirklees District Police has pledged to continue the crime prevention work to protect females after data showed a 41% reduction in violent offending against women.
Police recorded 43 offences classed as violence against women in 2022-23 compared to 73 in 2021-22.
The reduction has come in the wake of a huge package of measures implemented through the Safer Kirklees partnership and with funding and support from the Mayor of West Yorkshire and other agencies.
Women from across Kirklees have also joined officers to form an Independent Advisory Group to suggest improvements to the district’s response to tackling violence against women and girls.
Det Chief Insp Marie Bulmer, of Kirklees District CID, said: “Reducing offending against women and girls has been a key priority for Kirklees District, and a significant part of that work has been lowering offending in the night time economy.
“Huddersfield remains a popular night out in West Yorkshire and we have worked hard with our partners in force, at Safer Kirklees and third party groups, to deliver this package of safety measures.”
Key initiatives launched in Huddersfield since winter 2022 have included the force’s cutting edge Project Spotlight developed to identify potential criminality and prevent it from ever taking place.
Spotlight has seen officers patrol at key times in uniform and plain clothes on busy streets to look out for those who are there for a criminal purpose.
Officers intervened early in situations where it looked like criminal behaviour could take place, resulting in a notable fall in offending in the first three months of 2023 compared to the last three months of 2022.
The use of Spotlight in Kirklees followed its pilot in Leeds before Christmas where it was credited with lowering offending in the city centre night time economy. Other activity has included regular patrols using passive drugs dogs in streets, bars and pubs in the town centre.
These patrols resulting in the detection of Class A drugs on persons in the town, with subsequent searching of those stopped leading to the detection of weapons in some cases, with arrests then made.
Preventative programmes also included the continued operation of the Ask For Angela campaign in which victims can ask for assistance from bar staff if they feel at risk.
A recent series of test visits to venues in Huddersfield town centre where women ‘asked for Angela’ found that 80% understood and offered support. Around 20 venues were visited on Wednesday June 28.
The deployment of a night safety bus has also helped women feel safer. The bus and its team of trained staff from Change Grow Live’s CHART Kirklees drug and alcohol service and Locala have been on hand to help people report sexual harassment and provide a safe space if someone is feeling threatened.
Finally, significant collaboration work has been ongoing with the University of Huddersfield to raise awareness among students about how they can stay safer.
Clr Carole Pattison, Kirklees Council’s Cabinet member for community safety, said: “We want people to be able to enjoy our town centres during the day and into the evening. We have some fantastic bars, and restaurants within the town centre and I am delighted that so many are taking part in the Ask for Angela scheme.
“In an ideal world we wouldn’t need schemes like this, but we know that situations occur where people are made to feel unsafe and that’s where this scheme comes in.
“Whether it’s a date gone wrong, or you are feeling threatened by another person’s behaviour – Ask for Angela. A member of staff will help move you away from the situation and get you the help you need.
“When combined with the night bus and Project Spotlight we hope that no matter what the situation you will feel safe to enjoy a night out in Huddersfield.”
See more detail about Ask for Angela and crime prevention in Kirklees HERE