Chief Constable for North Yorkshire Police, Dave Jones, explains how the Police Property Fund turns unreturnable stolen or recovered goods into grants for local community groups.
Mountain bikes, perfume and jewellery; tools, TVs and tablets. You’d be surprised at the range and volume of stolen, confiscated and found items that find a temporary home in our police stations. In an ideal world, these goods would all be reunited with their rightful owners. However, there are many items which haven’t been property-marked and which aren’t particularly distinctive in their nature – which makes them practically impossible to return.
Due to the large volumes of items being seized and recovered, it’s impractical for us to keep them for any great length of time, so the vast majority are sold to the public via online auctions, raising money in the process. This money forms the “pot” for the North Yorkshire Police Property Fund.
The idea of the Fund is simple. Twice a year, we open funding rounds where local community and voluntary organisations of all sizes and types can apply for money to support initiatives of benefit to North Yorkshire and its residents.
To be considered for a grant, a project needs to meet certain criteria. For example, it should involve children and young people in extra-curricular activities, or help to increase safety, reduce the fear of crime or anti-social behaviour, or bring different parts of the community together. It’s also important that organisations applying for a grant from the Police Property Fund encourage equality of opportunity, promote good community relations, and demonstrate that they can tackle any barriers that may prevent disabled people using their services.
At the end of the application period, the Police and Crime Commissioner and I judge all the entries, and decide where to award a grant. We receive some great ideas, and although it takes a lot of time to consider each application fully, it is a task that we both enjoy – especially when we come across a really good project that will make a positive impact in the local community.
The Police Property Fund has been a real success, and continues to grow in popularity each year. Over the past five years more than £120,000 has been distributed to projects throughout the North Yorkshire region, helping to bring our community together and tackle many equality barriers.
Looking at some successful examples from our last round of funding paints a strong picture of the positive effect that even relatively small amounts of cash can have. For example, the Yellow Ribbonand White Rabbit pre-schools based at Catterick Garrison and Claro Barracks, Ripon were successful in a grant application of over £1200 to provide books, puzzles, dolls, play food and posters to help young children – often from as far away as Fiji and Nepal – to understand British values and learn to respect different cultures and beliefs.
Another project – one which is close to my heart in my role as the national police lead for rural and wildlife crime – will see children in our region enjoying a special conservation experience on the North York Moors. We gave a £3,000 grant (one of the highest we have awarded) to the British Association for Shooting and Conservation to fund experience days for hundreds of youngsters between the ages of six and 11. On one of these days, the young people – who may have little direct experience of our local habitat – will visit the grouse moors, help out with conservation tasks and learn about the environment and fascinating wildlife unique to our region.
Riding for the Disabled England (RDA) is another successful applicant. They bid for £750 to help eight disabled people take part in a week-long residential holiday to learn to drive a pony and carriage, and take part in other sport and arts and craft activities. The experience is the only one of its type in the UK, and the people who take part gain a lot of self-confidence, so it has a much longer-term impact on their lives.
Even just these three projects offer an insight into the valuable work that our many community and voluntary organisations carry out within North Yorkshire, and I am very proud that our Fund has helped to support them. It feels right that the proceeds from stolen goods are providing a bit of extra support to community ventures, rather than lining criminals’ pockets.
Entry is now open for the latest round of Police Property Fund grants. The Commissioner and I have already put a date in our diaries to judge the applications, and we’re really looking forward to supporting another set of excellent initiatives this year. So, if you are part of a community group in North Yorkshire, and have a project that would fit our funding criteria, please remember to get your application in before the closing date on 30 April. You’ll find all the details at www.northyorkshire.police.uk/grant. Good luck!
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