Call for more police in Dewsbury to make town centre safer for women
A leading councillor wants to reclaim Dewsbury’s streets and make the town centre feel safer for women on their own.
Coun Cathy Scott, the newly-elected deputy leader of Kirklees Council, said there were too many “undesirables” making people feel uneasy on the streets.
Describing Dewsbury town centre as a “frightening place for women on their own”, Coun Scott wants more visible policing on the streets.
“I listen to what people say to me and there are certain times when I wouldn’t want to be in the town centre on my own,” she said.
“There’s a perception or a fear of crime and a priority for me is policing in Dewsbury town centre.
“It is still a frightening place for women on their own. I know we can’t get rid of the many undesirables but women I have spoken to say they would go back shopping in Dewsbury if there were more police officers visibly about.”
Coun Scott, whose Dewsbury East ward includes the town centre, said Dewsbury had people from many different cultures and backgrounds.
“Some do gather on the street and that can be intimidating to others, though that is just their culture, that’s what they do,” she said.
Coun Scott said she planned to meet Insp Lee Baragwanath, of Dewsbury and Mirfield Neighbourhood Policing Team, to discuss policing in the town centre.
“Unless we can overcome this perception or fear of crime we won’t get people back into Dewsbury town centre. My mum won’t go shopping in Dewsbury any more,” she said.
“People don’t like walking through the old Market Place. It’s where the banks are and people feel like they are having to look over their shoulders all the time.”
While Kirklees Council’s regeneration Blueprint is moving forward and better times are promised, Coun Scott said there had to be openness and honesty about the town’s problems and challenges.
“While we all want to be positive about our town, we can’t ignore the problems and how people feel about Dewsbury,” she said. “We can’t paper over the cracks and we need to get to the root of the problem.
“I want the town centre to be much more family-friendly and we need a feel-good factor. It’s certainly true that if we keep talking the town down no-one will spend a pound.”
Coun Scott, 57, who lives at Chidswell, has been a councillor since 2008 and has served on the cabinet for several years. She has responsibility for housing and at last month’s annual meeting she was confirmed as deputy council leader.
On her new role she said: “I am a bit apprehensive but I am up for the challenge. I will think strategically but I will always fight Dewsbury’s corner.”