Leeds Student goes on the beat
This week Leeds Student took to the streets with the West Yorkshire Police to experience first hand what it’s like being a bobby on the beat in Leeds.
We set off in a police van with two Police Constables (PCs) from the North West Inner Neighbourhood Policing Team, targeting crime hotspots and streets where burglaries had recently taken place. Patrolling the areas of Woodhouse, Hyde Park, Little London and around the universities PC Pat Brumskill explained his job; tackling robberies, making sure the police are visible to the population, and stopping and searching suspicious passers by. As we were driving down streets of student houses the two officers scanned the area for possible offenders, pulling over to chat to one ex-offender who was familiar to them who had just finished community service.
Both officers talked of how well they know the area, including which streets to check and even the families that repeat offenders are part of. Far from the image of an anonymous, hardened and professional criminal, many of the burglars in the area are juveniles looking for a quick way to make some money and taking advantage of unsecured properties.
PC Helen Hartley , a former Leeds University student and Hyde Park resident, was keen to stress that most crimes are preventable and students need not be scared, just vigilant. She said students need to ensure that valuables are safe, properties are secure and common sense is used when it comes to walking home at night. The pair often have to help students home after a night out who are about to walk alone across the park in the early hours of the morning. Both said students must take taxis if they are drunk. They also talked of students who walk across the park at the end of a long day at uni carrying their laptops, phones and ipods who are just as vulnerable to crimes like the attack on the third year Philosophy student reported in the Leeds Student.
PC Brumskill has worked as a police officer in Leeds for the past 15 years and says it has changed for the better, recalling the days when Little London was a hive of criminal activity and drug dealing, effectively a ‘no go’ area for students. Both officers said Leeds is now a far safer city, though higher crime rates are inevitable in densely populated student areas where properties often contain a TV and several laptops.
Considering the cuts to the budgets of both the police and council, officers are doing much with crime in Leeds despite limited resources. Leeds Student witnessed no crimes while out on patrol but was impressed to see the efforts the police are making to keep us safe.