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Crime put in spotlight at meeting
YORK residents met the recently-elected police and crime commissioner and local MPs to discuss their views on local crime.
Issues discussed at the meeting with Julia Mulligan and York’s MPs Hugh Bayley and Julian Sturdy – which was attended by about 25 people – included domestic violence, road casualty rates, treatment of vulnerable people and antisocial behaviour.
Alcohol as an exacerbating feature of crime is a significant concern for the area, Mrs Mulligan said.
The low turnout of the Guildhall meeting was raised, with one atttendee asking Mrs Mulligan how comfortable she was holding the meeting with so few people.
Mrs Mulligan said: “I would like ten times as many people here. For the next one, we will do more.” But she added: “At least we are here and we are talking to you.”
Residents were invited to discuss the draft Police and Crime Plan, which is under consultation until March 18.
Particular concern was drawn to North Yorkshire being the only area in the country not to have a “place of safety unit” for vulnerable people picked up under the Mental Health Act.
While the NHS is obliged to provide such a unit, delays in financing the project currently mean children and adults with mental health issues picked up by police are held in cells for as long as 12 hours, with some being transported on an hour-and-a-half journey to Airedale Hospital.
Mrs Mulligan said significant pressure was being placed on health service commissioners to give the unit the go-ahead and said she had been told it would be commissioned this year.
The under-reporting of crimes was discussed, with the suggestion people did not report crimes as they did not feel they would be taken seriously by the police.
Mrs Mulligan said the highest proportion of complaints were about how police engaged with the public but she said she believed this was an unfair reflection of the service and there were many “fantastic” officers in the area. She is working to set up an independent complaints body in the next few months.
Mr Bayley called for the publication of crime statistics so it was possible for the public to follow trends and to know whether policies were working.
In response to this, Mrs Mulligan said in the last year there had been 1,412 fewer reported crimes overall in York, a drop of 11.2 per cent and a 17 per cent drop in burglaries. She suggested to Safer York Partnership that its statistics could be published on her website.