Over the campaign I'll be video blogging regularly to keep you updated with what I'm doing, and what my priorities are for Huddersfield.
I met with a representative of the local police today, deeply concerned about the impact of the cuts made by this Tory-led government and how they'll affect officers in Huddersfield and change how they can do their job.
Today is the first day of the General Election campaign when Parliament dissolves and all MPs cease to become MPs and become parliamentary candidates.
I have spent the day out and about in Huddersfield, talking to people in Huddersfield Open Market, knocking on doors in Newsome, and visiting a great new Caribbean restaurant and takeaway by the University called Yar’dees.
What struck me most today was meeting with a representative of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, who got in touch on behalf of the 4,900 police officers in West Yorkshire – the fourth largest police force in the country.
As he highlighted to me, the cuts imposed by the Conservative-led Government have had devastating consequences. There are now 1000 fewer West Yorkshire Police Officers, a 20% reduction which is far higher than the national average. I suspect the Tory heartlands have not suffered quite such a reduction in numbers.
Contrary to what the Conservatives have been saying, crime is rising and it is rising consistently and significantly in our part of the world. Violent crime has increased by 16%! This is not to mention the crisis in unreported crime, where people just don’t bother contacting the Police, believing that there is no point.
The cuts have meant that the Police are becoming a reactive force, rather than a proactive one. The service is buckling and being driven back into the 1980s. This means our streets are less safe and the vulnerable are left unprotected.
Police Officers have been singled out by the Conservative Government, accused of ineptness and corruption – remember the Plebgate affair?
Like the rest of the country Police officers are good, hard-working people who deserve far better treatment, just as the rest of us deserve to live in a place kept safe from crime.