Leeds buses get on board with project to disrupt criminals (9 Jan 2019)

Bus services in Leeds are getting on board with a cutting edge police project to disrupt criminal activity.

A number of First Leeds services are to begin to feature specially designed artwork for Project Servator from January as part of continuing work by authorities to encourage residents to report suspicious behaviour and make it more difficult for criminals to operate.

First Leeds Services will feature the Project Servator posters inside buses, as well as on digital poster boards and on a Firstbus App used by drivers to help them raise awareness of the project.

Project Servator was formally launched in November 2018 by West Yorkshire Police and sees the force use tactics which were developed and tested by experts at the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) and first used by the City of London Police in 2014.

It involves officers in uniform and plain clothes patrolling busy areas, including city centres and tourist hotspots, at unpredictable times.

Those officers are specially trained to spot tell-tale signs that a person may be carrying out 'hostile reconnaissance' which is the information gathering a criminal carries out when planning to commit a criminal act, including terrorist attacks.

The approach also relies on people who work, live and visit the area acting as extra eyes and ears for the police, and reporting anything that doesn't feel right.

During their patrols in the pre - Christmas period, Project Servator officers spoke with shoppers in Leeds to encourage them to do this.

They also made a number of arrests for a variety of offences, including drug dealing, and gathered useful intelligence about criminal activity.

Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Russ Foster of West Yorkshire Police, said: "A great deal of hard work has been dedicated to delivering Project Servator across West Yorkshire, and we are extremely grateful to First Leeds in helping and supporting us in raising public awareness of this cutting edge initiative.

"We continue to build a network of people who work in our communities across business, commerce, retail and public transport who are ideally placed to be the police's eyes and ears as they are out and about in our cities and towns and other crowded places every day, and will most likely know straight away if something seems out of place or unusual."

John Fielding, Staff Manager at First Leeds, said: "The safety of our staff and customers is our highest priority and we're grateful for the ongoing support from West Yorkshire Police's Project Servator officers.

"Our bus services offer customers a safe transport option to their chosen destination and as well as the additional support from West Yorkshire Police, we also carry CCTV on-board every vehicle and our drivers are able to call for support if a customer ever feels unsafe or vulnerable."

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), said: "I would like to thank Firstbus for entering into the spirit of Project Servator and doing their bit to help keep our communities safe.

"Working with partners, such as public transport providers, along with our communities at large, is a vital part of making Project Servator effective and successful.

"I would encourage members of the public to feel free to speak to officers, ask about the project and raise any issues or comments they may have."

Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Foster, added: "Since its launch Project Servator has had an impact and we have had highly positive feedback from residents who have seen and engaged with our Servator patrols in Leeds.

"Project Servator is all about building a network of vigilance to make it harder for criminals to operate while, at the same time, reassuring the public.

"This is nothing to be alarmed about and we would encourage residents to speak with our teams who will be carrying Project Servator leaflets and signage.

"Please remember that if you see something which doesn't look and feel right, then get in touch. We need you to help us by being our eyes and ears to help prevent crime."

For more information see the West Yorkshire Police Project Servator Project at www.westyorkshire.police.uk/ProjectServator

You can also follow the Project Servator team on Twitter using the handle @WYP_Servator

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© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019