Holly Lynch MP

Working hard for the people of Halifax, Illingworth & Mixenden, Town, Ovenden, Park, Skircoat, Northowram & Shelf, Sowerby Bridge and Warley

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Holly visits youth engagement projects with neighbourhood policing officer PC Kim McCloskey

I spent last Friday night with West Yorkshire Police to see how the demands on local policing are changing. I joined officers in my Halifax constituency for a 2pm – 10pm shift, spending the afternoon with neighbourhood policing teams, and the evening with response teams dealing with 999 calls.

The Police Federation had recently been to see me to raise their concerns about an increase in assaults on police officers and unsafe staffing levels so I was keen to see for myself just how well police officers on the front line are coping with cuts of £160 million over 5 years, and the loss of 1,200 police officers, a reduction of 20% of the force.

It was an eye opening experience.

As an MP, I already work closely with local neighbourhood policing. There is some outstanding work going on to address the underlying causes of crime, tackle anti-social behaviour, and really engage with communities, which is invaluable.

In the run up to the Autumn spending review in November 2015, the police had been braced to expect more devastating cuts. Had we seen cuts of up to 40%, as had been rumoured, neighbourhood policing would have been a thing of the past. We would have lost all that great work, those relationships, partnership working and build up of trust in communities. It would have been an absolute travesty and only increased the pressures on urgent response policing so like many others I was incredibly relieved when the Government saw sense and left neighbourhood policing alone.

However, during my time with response officers and on patrol with PC Craig Gallant reacting to 999 calls, I could really see the strain on the service.

I had already discussed concerns with the Police Federation and senior officers that, due to reduced numbers, officers are regularly being asked to respond to emergency calls on their own. The Police Federation informed me about a female police officer who recently responded to a domestic call in Calderdale, my district, on her own and was head butted by an offender, leaving her with a broken eye-socket, and knocking out two teeth.

This simply isn't good enough. If the police are not safe on duty then the public are not safe and it wasn't long into the evening shift, that I saw for myself the dangers officers are in when responding to incidents on their own - as a single crew.

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Holly joined PC Craig Gallant responding to 999 calls in the evening.

Whilst out with PC Gallant, a car which had initially failed to stop was eventually pulled over and the officer asked the driver to get out of the vehicle. He refused at first and within minutes other vehicles had arrived. The officer found himself surrounded, with people becoming increasingly aggressive and intimidating.

Response officers like PC Gallant clearly have a lot of experience in dealing with difficult situations and whilst he managed the incident incredibly well, I saw first-hand just how dangerous it can be for officers working alone.

When the crowd that had gathered became increasingly hostile and he drew his baton to give himself some space, I was so concerned for his safety that I rang 999 myself, thinking it was the fastest way to stress just how urgently he needed back-up.

Officers do a tough job, and whilst most will tell you they understand that there are risks, I am telling the Government that to keep sending officers into dangerous situations without support is unacceptable. There were 991 recorded assaults on West Yorkshire police last year, with 23,000 recorded across the country. Yet in addition to this many attacks going un-reported or instead being recorded as being part and parcel of ‘resisting arrest’.

As a society we must not tolerate attacks on our officers and I want the Home Secretary to take a fresh look at sentencing to ensure that offenders are in no doubt about how serious crimes of this type really are.

It became clear to me that one of the biggest challenges putting additional pressure on the police is the changing nature of dealing with vulnerable young people and adults.

Any MP will tell you that we face real difficulties in ensuring that those coming to our surgeries and offices, often with complex vulnerabilities, receive the support that they need. At a time when local authority budgets have been slashed and NHS funding has been squeezed, there is a danger that vulnerable people are not getting the most appropriate care.

Yet this is becoming a social problem which is increasingly falling to the police to deal with due to the inability of other agencies to take a lead.

Increased awareness of exploitation in all its ugly forms, from child sexual exploitation to human trafficking, means that quite rightly, policing priorities have changed to reflect this – but not the resources. With such diminished numbers in our front line ranks, I was able to see during my time with West Yorkshire Police, the difficulties of having to constantly divert crews into locating missing people, which is compromising neighbourhood policing work and eating into the officers available for 999 calls.

In the 24 hours leading up to my time on duty, Calderdale police had safely recovered 9 vulnerable missing people and were involved in looking for an addition 7 the following day. The weekly average for Calderdale is 43, with 416 a week going missing across the force. 114 of these are deemed to be high risk individuals.

I am calling on Theresa May and our new Home Secretary Amber Rudd to consider every way in which we can empower other agencies, adult social services, children’s services and mental health providers, to take a lead on this important work. We have a responsibility to the most vulnerable people, to keep them from harm and away from exploitation. Yet the police cannot be the catch-all for all problems and with these reduced numbers and an increase in the complexity of the issues facing the police, this simply isn't sustainable.

Without answers to these questions, we will continue to see police officers themselves, become increasingly at risk on the front line and when the police are at risk, so are the public.

The thin blue line is wafer thin leaving officers and the public in danger

Holly visits youth engagement projects with neighbourhood policing officer PC Kim McCloskey

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Holly has praised the work of local charity Skillshop during a visit to their centre.

The Skillshop, based near Illingworth, provides specialised training for adults with learning disabilities in a caring environment. They aim to improve people's self-esteem, confidence and personal development and break down social isolation.

The Centre was established in 2005 and have helped hundreds of people develop new social networks and friendships helping them to live more fulfilling lives.

Holly answered questions from users of the charity on topics ranging from Brexit to the challenges of being an MP. She said:

“Many people aren’t aware of all the fantastic charities in our area which work to improve the lives of so many of our friends and neighbours.

“The staff and volunteers at Skillshop should be recognised for their dedicated commitment to supporting people who so often feel excluded from society. I am keen to make sure that the Government recognises the invaluable work of centres like the skillshop, they have my full support.”

For more information on the work of Skillshop or to make a donation contact office@skillshop.org.uk

‘Let’s recognise our fantastic local charities’

Holly has praised the work of local charity Skillshop during a visit to their centre. The Skillshop, based near Illingworth, provides specialised training for adults with learning disabilities in a caring...

Today I have written to Labour Party members with my position on the Labour leadership.

The Labour party has become divided in a way that is putting its very existence at risk, and we could not be any further from where I hoped we would be, just 14 months after I was elected.

At the last meeting of the constituency Labour party, I had a very candid and honest discussion with members about the situation. I explained that whilst I did not necessarily agree with the timing of the motion of no confidence in Jeremy, or the way in which the issue had been brought to a head, talk of a snap general election meant that we needed to do some real soul searching as a party, and ask ourselves some tough questions about just how ready we would be to go into an election.

I want to stress that as a frontbench member of the Opposition whips office, I have served Jeremy Corbyn and the party since my appointment in September last year, to the very best of my ability. I have stayed in post throughout the leadership challenge and as many of you will know I have been working with Jo Cox’s staff, having become the supervising MP for Batley and Spen. I have not spoken against Jeremy Corbyn at any stage of this process.

However we are now facing unsustainable divisions within our party and I am afraid that Jeremy simply does not have the answers we need to move us beyond the place we are now.

These divisions are not simply in the Parliamentary Labour party, but at every level of our movement. I fully accept that Jeremy has engaged many people, from those who have never taken an interest in politics before, to long standing members, and that will need to be reflected in where we go from here. However too many voters, members, councillors, MPs and MEPs have said that this is simply not working, and that Jeremy cannot provide the direction we now so desperately need.

I can assure you that many colleagues who have resigned their posts, from all wings of the party, did so with the greatest reluctance, after accepting that his leadership was failing to deliver. I would urge all members to read the accounts given by Thangam Debbonaire and Lilian Greenwood which explain in detail how, quite apart from his politics, Jeremy is ineffective at making the decisions and providing leadership that we so desperately need, both in Parliament and across the country.

So we now find ourselves in a leadership contest which must be conducted in the most comradely of ways. I am sorry to say that ‘Labour values’ have not always been reflected in some of the discussion I have seen, particularly on social media. Many of my colleagues have been subject to a level of abuse and intimidation which is categorically unacceptable. That is not the party I joined and I hope you will join me in saying that such behaviour has no place in our movement.

The people of Halifax elected me as their Labour MP and it is an honour and a privilege that I take very seriously. We should never lose sight of why the Labour Party exists. To suggest that we should not concern ourselves with being in Government is to fail to understand the urgency with which we must replace this Conservative Government for all those who are relying on us. This is my absolute focus.

Having worked with Owen Smith closely as the whip for his work and pensions team, I believe that he can offer the vision and the leadership that we now so desperately need. He understands what is needed to unite the party, and take all of us forward.

I hope to speak to as many members and voters as possible in person over the summer, to answer any questions you might have about the past few weeks and to hear your thoughts about the future of the party.

I hope that we can move on from here, with a renewed commitment to taking on the Tories and putting a stop to the damage that they are doing to all of our communities. Having reflected on the last few weeks, I believe a new leader and a fresh start is the only way to do it.

My Statement on the Labour Leadership Election

Today I have written to Labour Party members with my position on the Labour leadership. The Labour party has become divided in a way that is putting its very existence...


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