New figures reveal that a range of crime fighting measures implemented to safeguard women enjoying a night out in Huddersfield has led to a substantial decrease in offences. Cutting-edge preventative policing, the use of drugs dogs, an increased number of night marshals, and the introduction of a dedicated safety bus have all been credited with making Huddersfield town centre safer for women and girls during the winter months.
According to data released by Kirklees District Police, there has been a remarkable 41 percent reduction in violent offences against women. In the 2022/2023 period, police recorded 43 offences classified as violence against women, compared to 73 offences in the previous year.
This decline in crime can be attributed to the comprehensive package of measures implemented through the Safer Kirklees partnership, with support from the Mayor of West Yorkshire and various third-party agencies. Furthermore, women from across Kirklees have collaborated with officers to establish an Independent Advisory Group, contributing suggestions for enhancing the district’s response to tackling violence against women and girls.
DCI Marie Bulmer of Kirklees District CID expressed her satisfaction with the progress, stating, “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 nighttime economy. Huddersfield remains a popular night out in West Yorkshire, and we have worked diligently with our partners in the force, at Safer Kirklees, and third-party groups to implement this package of safety measures. The feedback we’ve received regarding initiatives such as Spotlight and drugs dog patrols has been overwhelmingly positive.”
One of the pivotal initiatives launched in Huddersfield since winter 2022 is Project Spotlight, an innovative crime prevention program aimed at identifying and preventing potential criminal activity before it occurs. Officers have been patrolling busy streets in both uniform and plain clothes at key times, monitoring individuals who may be present with criminal intent. Early intervention in situations where criminal behaviour seemed likely has resulted in a notable decrease in offences during the first three months of 2023, compared to the last three months of 2022. Project Spotlight was initially piloted in Leeds before Christmas and was credited with reducing offences in the city centre’s nighttime economy.
Other significant activities include regular patrols employing passive drugs dogs in the town centre’s streets, bars, and pubs. These patrols have resulted in the detection of Class A drugs on individuals, leading to subsequent searches that have occasionally uncovered weapons, resulting in arrests.
Preventative programs also encompass the ongoing operation of the Ask For Angela campaign. This initiative allows victims to seek assistance from bar staff if they feel at risk. Additionally, the deployment of the night safety bus, equipped with trained staff from Change Grow Live’s CHART Kirklees drug and alcohol service and Locala, offers a safe space for reporting sexual harassment or seeking refuge from potential threats.
Collaborative efforts with Huddersfield University have also been undertaken to raise awareness among students about staying safe.
DCI Bulmer extended her gratitude to all those involved in the important work, stating, “We’ve witnessed true innovation in our crime prevention efforts, and residents and licensees have wholeheartedly supported our objectives. Our new independent advisory group has already suggested novel approaches that are improving the district’s approach to tackling violence against women and girls. Women should feel safe when going out for a drink, a dance, or a meal in Huddersfield town centre, and we intend to sustain our joint efforts to ensure their safety.”
Cllr Carole Pattison, Kirklees Cabinet Lead for Community Safety, emphasised the importance of enabling people to enjoy town centres during the day and evening, highlighting the participation of numerous bars and restaurants in the Ask for Angela scheme. She encouraged individuals to ask for assistance when they feel unsafe, ensuring that staff members will promptly intervene and provide the necessary help.
West Yorkshire’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Alison Lowe OBE, expressed the shared vision of creating a safer and fairer West Yorkshire for everyone, day or night. She commended the widespread adoption of the Ask for Angela scheme by venues across the region and emphasised the commitment to collaboration with partners, local authorities, and the police to ensure that everyone can feel safe and fully enjoy the region’s vibrant and diverse nighttime economy.