Combating festive crime in Halifax

Police officers on patrol in Halifax town centre.
Police officers on patrol in Halifax town centre.

Police are pumping more resources into Halifax town centre this Christmas to protect business owners, shoppers and partygoers.

An additional fourteen police officers, eight PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers) and 10 special constables have been recruited to patrol the town centre over the Christmas period to deter criminals.

The move has been made as figures show that overall crime in the Town Ward - Halifax town centre, Siddall, Boothtown and Southowram - has fallen 14 per cent in the last 12 months. This includes shoplifting, which is down 25 per cent, while thefts from motor vehicles have fallen by 17 per cent.

As well as allocating the extra 32 officers to provide high-visibility patrols over a 14-day period, shift patterns are also going to be altered to make sure there is “maximum coverage at peek crime times”. The additional officers will work alongside the “standard ward cover” of one sergeant, six police officers, four PCSOs and three Calderdale Council community wardens.

Inspector Colin Skeath, of the Halifax Neighbourhood Policing Teams, said his officers are looking to build on the good work that has already been done and take a “robust approach” to dealing with criminals.

“Over the last 12 to 18 months we have seen significant reductions in crime. Confidence has risen within the community and the business community,” he said. “There’s a lot of partnership work that goes on here, but we as a police force will deal robustly with people who commit crime in Halifax town centre.”

The police are focusing on both day-time and night-time crime in the town centre and say they are specifically looking to tackle violent crime and sexual assaults, as well as shop lifting, handling and selling stolen goods and car crime.

Police officers working night shifts are sitting in ambulance responder cars with paramedics to ensure a quick response to violent incidents on December 12, 13, 20 and 21. On Saturday, December 13, officers will be giving out nighttime festive crime prevention advice, as well as anti-spiking bottle tops, and they are also working with Mytholmroyd-based anti domestic violence charity The White Ribbon Campaign to promote respect for women. Licensed premises will also display nighttime crime prevention advice posters and cards.

PC Ben Doughty, of the Halifax Centre NPT, said business owners are playing a major role in helping to combat daytime crime, including shoplifting and the selling of stolen goods, whilst traffic wardens and Calderdale Council’s community support officers are doing their bit to combat vehicle crime.

“We have got really strong shop watch scheme where we are actually engaging the shops and getting them to take responsibility for crime and working with us to prevent it,” he said “Because of the that shoplifting is down 25 per cent year on year.

“If individuals are going to commit crime here, we’re going to make it as tough as possible for them. That message is getting out now.”

PC Doughty said when jewellers in Halifax town centre buy gold they request a thumb print and proof of identification from the sellers in case a police investigation is launched at a later date.

Earlier this year the NPT received £14,000 from Proceeds of Crime for Apollo scanners, which link in to the national mobile phone register to check if they have been reported as stolen.

PC Doughty said all second-hand retailers in the town centre have signed up to a responsible sellers scheme and are subject to random stock scans. If anything is found to be stolen then the show owners/ stall holders face prosecution.

PC Doughty said: “Shopkeepers are our biggest ally. They hold all the information. They’re dealing with these people every day. It’s about them telling us what’s going on so we can help them.”

The scanners are set to be introduced in the custody suite at Halifax Police Station in the New Year.

The police are aiming to cut vehicle crime by having officers, PCSOs, special constables, community wardens and traffic wardens checking for “vulnerable vehicles” - those with valuables left on display. The owner of any vehicle identified as “vulnerable” will be sent a letter informing them what was left on display, as well as where their vehicle was parked and when.

PC Doughty said: “We’re aiming to promote the town centre as a safe place to live, visit and work.”

*** Important dates:

• Friday, December 19 - Festive crime prevention event – Halifax Bus Station from 1pm to 4.30pm.

• Saturday, December 20 - Festive crime prevention event – WoolShops Shopping Centre from 10am to 3pm

• Sunday, December 21 - Festive crime prevention event – WoolShops Shopping Centre from 10am to 3pm

***Important advice:

• Using a timer switch so that your house lights come on when you are not in.

• Keep valuables out of sight.

• Mark your property.

• Be on your guard against bogus callers.

• Keep your car safe by parking in a well-lit area and locking your vehicle. Also remove expensive items such as sat navs.