Hundreds of businesses sign up to cutting edge crime disruption network
28th October 2019
Thousands of residents and hundreds of businesses are helping to disrupt criminal activity in West Yorkshire after engaging with a cutting edge policing project.
The national Project Servator initiative has been operating in West Yorkshire for a year and has been praised by businesses, transport providers and residents for its impact in helping make street and retail areas safer.
Over the last 12 months officers specially trained in high visibility Project Servator policing tactics patrolled at key sites including retail areas in Leeds and engaged with 11,000 residents to encourage them to be extra eyes and ears and report anything that doesn't feel right.
The team has built positive relationships with hundreds of businesses and retail areas including and the Merrion Centre and Victoria Leeds, all helping establish a 'network of vigilance' operating in key sites.
While carrying out Project Servator related deployments, officers made in excess of 40 arrests for a wide range of offences including burglary and drug dealing.
They also gained intelligence about criminal activity which was passed to appropriate agencies.
Project Servator is the name given to highly visible police deployments designed to disrupt a range of criminal activity, including terrorism. They can happen anywhere at any time.
The tactics are designed to identify and disrupt hostile reconnaissance - the information gathering a criminal does when planning to commit a criminal act, including terrorist attacks.
They involve officers, both uniformed and plain clothed, who are specially trained to spot the tell-tale signs that an individual may have criminal intent. They are supported by other resources, such as police dogs armed officers, CCTV operators, Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and vehicle checkpoints.
The approach relies on police working with the community - businesses, partners and members of the public - to build a network of vigilance and encourage suspicious activity to be reported.
Partners who have supported Project Servator in West Yorkshire have included Victoria Leeds, First Leeds, the Merrion Centre and Leeds City Centre business Berry's Jewellers.
Nicola Hanson, Victoria Leeds Deputy General Manager, said: We have been a part of Project Servator since it was first rolled out in Leeds in 2018, and it has proved to be a fantastic initiative, with strong collaboration between the Police & Businesses from across the city. The Project Servator Team are always helpful, and proactive with retailers and landlords. We look forward to continuing to work together to make Leeds a safer City.
Stephanie McCann the Facilities Manager at The Merrion Centre, said: "One of our key focuses is the security of our shopping centre and Project Servator has been a valued support and training provision, which has proven invaluable.
"With each visit they not only provide a reassuring presence but a focal point for our team to gather knowledge and experience on the appropriate methods of identifying criminality. The team are always approachable, friendly and happy to help.
"Since the introduction of this scheme we have noticed a clear reduction in attempted thefts which we largely put down to the visible presence of the team. This scheme has our full backing and we hope to see it continue well into the future."
Paul Task the manager at Berry's Jewellers on Commercial Street, Leeds, said: "Project Servator has been, in my opinion, extremely successful over the last year.
"The presence on their officers on the streets of Leeds Centre has certainly put the police in a very positive light, allowing myself as a shop manger to feel more secure. I have watched from the store and seen how the police and the public have been interacting which is surely building trust and communication within the community. I am positive this is the way to reduce crime in the city."
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Ridley of West Yorkshire Police, said: "A significant amount of hard work has been dedicated to delivering Project Servator across West Yorkshire over the past 12 months and we are very grateful to businesses, partners and residents for helping us establish this cutting edge initiative.
"The network of vigilance we have built with thousands of residents and businesses is invaluable in making it harder for criminals to operate while, at the same time, reassuring the public. Our officers have received positive feedback from residents while on deployments has been very positive and we know this is an initiative which is making them safer and also making them feel safer.
He added: "Plans are in place to continue to drive Project Servator forward in West Yorkshire and residents will see more of our unpredictable deployments, particularly over the Christmas period. Please remember that if something 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."
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), said: "It's fantastic to see that Project Servator has been so well received locally by businesses, partners and the wider public.
"I fully support this initiative with its emphasis on high visibility patrols which is clearly disrupting criminal activity and helping to keep our communities safe and feeling safe.
"Its purpose absolutely reflects the priorities I have outlined in my Police and Crime Plan, particularly in meeting our strategic policing requirements and protecting against major threats and violent crime.
"I want to pass on my thanks to all those involved in Project Servator for a job well done in the first 12 months."
To report suspicious activity, speak to a police officer or member of staff, or call 101. In an emergency, dial 999.
For more information see the West Yorkshire Police Project Servator website at https://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/ProjectServator
You can also follow Project Servator on Twitter at @WYP_Servator