Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Businesses in Leeds urged to join the fight against crime

Businesses in Leeds city centre are being urged to keep a close eye on crime by joining a re-launched partnership between police and local traders.

Businesses Against Crime In Leeds (BACIL) aims to reduce crime throughout the city centre at all hours of the day and night, and even more traders are being encouraged to get involved.

Originally launched in June 2006, BACIL currently has nearly 235 members. These include shops and shopping centres, pubs, clubs and bars within the city centre and its outskirts.

Members are linked together via a radio network which is used to alert the City Neighbourhood Policing Team and other businesses about crime and anti-social behaviour or other suspicious activity.

Along with preventing and detecting crime, the scheme also helps to identify regular offenders and ban them from entering BACIL premises for as long as two years.

Anyone found breaking the ban could face punishment under Anti-Social Behaviour legislation.

As part of the re-launch, all BACIL members will be issued with new digital radios which will link daytime businesses and premises which are part of the night-time economy providing a seamless, 24/7 service with greater links between all involved.

BACIL premises will also be more easily identifiable, courtesy of new logo with will go on display in shop windows and business frontages.

Inspector Richard Clarke, who is responsible for the City Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT), said:
“Crime continues to fall across Leeds city centre year-on-year, and one of the main reasons for this is the close relationship officers have with traders through the BACIL partnership.

“The new and improved scheme including the digital radios will make it even easier for businesses and officers to work together to combat crime.”

BACIL has a dedicated police officer which manages the scheme, and members receive information not only on known offenders but also crime trends and hot spots, along with newsletters and regular crime prevention advice and training.

Councillor Peter Gruen, chair of the Safer Leeds Board, said:
"The BACIL programme is a proven way of protecting businesses from crime and making the city centre a safer place.

"It's a fast and effective way of sharing information and ensures businesses are quickly alerted to crime and anti-social behaviour. The BACIL re-launch event is an ideal opportunity to find out more and discover how the programme can benefit and protect businesses in the future."

How you can get involved:
The BACIL team is holding two re-launch events at The Loft on Cross New York Street on Tuesday, 22 February and Wednesday, 23 February.

The events will provide an opportunity for current BACIL members to pick up their new digital radios and learn about how they work, and will also allow prospective new members to learn more about the scheme.

There will also be stalls from organisations including the City NPT, British Transport Police, the NHS, Leeds City Council, Safer Leeds, Pubwatch, the Leeds Chamber of Commerce, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, Life Cycle and both university student unions.

Inspector Clarke said:
“The re-launch event is the perfect opportunity for traders in the city who are keen to crack down on crime to get involved and learn of the many benefits the BACIL scheme can offer them.”

The event on Tuesday, 22 February, will run from 12pm to 7pm. The event on Wednesday, 23 February, will run from 9am to 7pm.

For more information, contact PC Andy Johnston on 0845 6060606.

ENDS

For information contact Chris Oates in the City and Holbeck police press office on 0113 2855417 or Jon Crampton in Leeds City Council's press office on 0113 3951577.

‘Remarkable and impressive’ improvement for Leeds children’s services

Government inspectors have described the improvement in Leeds’ services for vulnerable and at risk children as ‘remarkable and impressive’ in the latest report published today.

Following an unannounced inspection last month Ofsted inspectors acknowledged that services have made considerable progress since concerns were raised during the last unannounced inspection in July 2009.

The latest inspection, which looked at the quality and effectiveness of ‘contact, referral and assessment arrangements and their impact on minimising any child abuse and neglect’ at Leeds City Council, was carried out during the 18 and 19 January 2011. Inspectors spoke to a range of staff and considered evidence including electronic case records, supervision files and notes, and observation of social workers undertaking assessments and referrals.

Inspectors highlighted that senior managers provide strong leadership which ‘has resulted in the remarkable and impressive improvement in the quality of the services inspected and the safety of children in the city’.

The report confirms that the council has addressed all the areas of priority action that were identified in the July 2009 report and that firm arrangements are in place for most of the areas of development.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
“I am absolutely delighted with this report which shows just how far we have come and that the changes we have put in place really are making a huge difference to the well-being and safety of children in Leeds, something reflected by the fact that the inspectors did not identify any children left at potential risk of harm.

“I am extremely encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive comments the inspectors have made and it is a true reflection of the commitment and dedication of the officers who have worked extremely hard to turn the service around.

“Children in Leeds deserve the absolute best service we can offer them and it is fantastic that we have gone from being rated “inadequate” less than two years ago to a situation the inspectors describe as a ‘remarkable’ turn-around.

“We know that there is still work to be done but we are determined that protecting vulnerable children and young people remains our top priority and I am confident that we can go from strength to strength by continuing with the changes we have put in place.”

Nigel Richardson, director of children’s services said:
“Our staff have worked extremely hard in challenging circumstances over the past eighteen months to implement improvements to keep children and young people in Leeds safe from the risk of serious harm.

“This inspection report, together with the recent positive reports on adoption, fostering and the youth offending service give us the confidence and assurance that we are moving in the right direction. We have a very positive platform to build on as we work to make Leeds a more child friendly city, where children and young people feel safe, supported and listened to.

“We know we must keep up these efforts to be even better and we already have actions in place to overcome the areas for development highlighted in the report.”

The report highlights that the Improvement Board which was set up after the last inspection has delivered ‘swift and sustainable progress through a robust improvement plan’.

Also highlighted is that child protection procedures are up-to-date and new on-line internal procedures for social care have been produced.

The report also identified a number of areas for development including the ‘electronic social care record system’ which the report says does not meet the requirements of the service. However the senior councillors have already agreed to invest in a new IT system for children’s social care, to rectify this issue.

The quality of recording assessments was also noted as an area for development. This again had already been identified as an issue by the council and is the focus of an improvement programme.

To further strengthen children’s services throughout the city some major developments are underway. The changes that have already been implemented include significant appointments to strengthen the leadership of children’s services, including a new director. Proposals are currently being finalised for a new structure, which will to make it easier for the different teams within children’s services to work together, particularly at a local level, and target support and resources to those young people who are most vulnerable.

ENDS
For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713
Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk