New top cop has Keighley at heart

Keighley News: Bradford and Airedale’s first division commander, Chief Superintendent Simon Atkin Bradford and Airedale’s first division commander, Chief Superintendent Simon Atkin

Bradford and Airedale’s new top cop truly has policing in his blood and believes in no-nonsense action to protect decent people and punish wrong-doers.

As a pupil at St Joseph’s Primary School in Keighley, when Simon Atkin strolled into a sweet shop or nipped to the chippy he would meet the firm but friendly gaze of his father, PC Tommy Atkin – the local bobby smiling out from a police poster.

And that same black and white poster is now framed and displayed in Chief Superintendent Atkin’s office at Bradford district’s Trafalgar House HQ.

“I was born in Keighley, and for 30 years my dad was our local police constable – that poster was in every shop window inviting people to tell him anything of interest or concern,” said Mr Atkin, 48.

“Obviously, I learned a lot from him and he was still a serving officer when both I and my sister started out as constables in the town.”

Mr Atkin moved up to sergeant, then to inspector still based at Keighley, learning every aspect of policing from the ground up.

“I like the whole Bradford district, but I do have special affection for Keighley – a lot of good memories.

“It’s my family town. I played rugby union for Keighley, went out at night around the town – it’s where I grew up,” said Mr Atkin, 6ft 3in and built like a useful prop forward.

The world of crime has changed since Mr Atkin finished at Holy Family School and joined the West Yorkshire force 23 years ago.

“My dad was a custody officer for 20 years and never saw heroin in all that time,” he said. “Now, of course, it’s a regular as anything.”

“Drugs and dealing are very high on our priority list, and all communities want us to tackle the problem,” said Mr Atkin, who is the first commander of a unified Bradford and Airedale division.

“That’s why we set up Operation Sabredale, which has successfully led to dozens of prosecutions and confiscations of assets from significant dealers under the Proceeds of Crime Act.”

Last year was marked by notable blows struck against street grooming of young girls in Bradford and Keighley, and Mr Atkin said success would continue to grow through 2014.

“We currently have 18 different cases with 41 arrests, which will hopefully be in the courts in 2014,” Mr Atkin said.

“Our Know The Signs campaign is nationally recognised, and is a multi-agency project working with voluntary and other groups.

“If we get intelligence on any child sex cases, these will be progressed with 24 hours – we will do things immediately.”

Mr Atkin added that while data and performance targets were part of the job, what residents really want is firm, direct action.

He said; “Look, I don’t think people care about seeing coppers kissing babies at photo opportunities – they want us to be out there tackling crime.

“I joined up with the belief we look after the decent people who go out to work and we go out and worry the criminals.

“That’s the view I’ve always had, from growing up with my dad being a police officer to becoming one myself, and that will never go away.

“We are going into 2014 on the front foot, and will really get the criminals worried.”

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