Wakefield: Top cop in talks to save marshals

Wakefield's top cop will hold crunch talks with local crime watchdogs as time runs out to find a way to save the city's Night Life Marshals.

Chief Superintendent Marc Callaghan, Wakefield District's Police Divisional Commander, will attend a meeting of Wakefield Council's Community Safety Overview and Scrutiny Committee as part of a bid to persuade bars and clubs in the city's nightlife hub of Westgate to come up with the cash to fund the marshals.

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Funding for the marshals, who have been praised by police for helping to curb booze-fuelled violent crime, will run out in March as spending cuts bite.

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And unless money can be found from elsewhere, council bosses will be forced to call time on the project, in what would be a huge blow to night-time safety in the city.

As reported in the YEP, members of the committee have been looking at the idea of getting licensees to foot the bill, a method already being employed in Leeds.

A report to the committee, who will meet on January 10, says: "At its meeting on November 8, the committee received a presentation about the street marshal scheme in Leeds that was funded by city centre licencees.

"The scheme has been successfully operating since June in three designated zones in the city centre, with all but one of the licensees in the three zones participating. Each licensed premises pays for its own marshal to work within the curtilege of their own premises, with smaller businesses joining together to share the cost."

Wakefield's marshals have patrolled the city centre on Friday and Saturday nights for the past five years and were introduced as part of a wave of measures to make the Westgate area a safer place.

In the year after the Westgate initiatives were brought in, violent crime there fell by 20 per cent.

Mr Callaghan will attend the meeting to discuss the idea of getting bars and clubs to pay, along with any other alternatives that are being considered.