Police good causes donations top seven figure mark

Proceeds from recovered property helps local groups.

Boilers, cricket bats and even a bass drum are just some of the items bought by community groups thanks to £1 million worth of donations from West Midlands Police.

Between April and December 2013, almost £15,000 – raised from the sale of property recovered by police – has been donated to worthy causes in the region. These latest handouts now mean that over the past six years £1,028,909 has been dished out to 876 youth clubs, pensioner groups, residents associations and more.

The cash has been used to fund initiatives outside of the policing remit which help keep those on the cusp of becoming involved in crime or anti-social behaviour on the straight and narrow, and also provides groups with crime reduction products or activities in a secure environment for those who are isolated and at risk of becoming a victim of crime.

Under the terms of the Police Property Act forces can sell property which has been in their possession for more than six months. The items include those seized by officers as part of an investigation and where the rightful owner cannot be traced.

The money raised through their auction is then used to support local projects undertaken by voluntary or charitable organisations that solely benefit the communities of the West Midlands. Grants range from £150 to £2,000 with all bids backed by local police teams who work with the groups.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Forsyth, who leads on local policing for the force, said: “£1 million is a remarkable milestone and I am delighted that over the past six years we have been able to help so many small groups here in the West Midlands.

“We all know about large national charities who offer huge sums for large-scale projects, but smaller groups often find it difficult to get small grants for projects which will directly benefit local people and will make a difference to local lives.

“While every effort goes into returning seized or recovered property to its rightful owner, there are occasions when we can’t trace the person. These items,such as stolen bottles of perfume, antiques and jewellery – are then sold at auction with the cash raised ploughed back into local initiatives which directly and indirectly prevent crime and help build community spirit.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones, who is a supporter of the fund, said: “It is always preferable for stolen property to be re-united with its rightful owner and every effort is made for that to happen.  When it does not prove to be possible however, it is good to know that the cash raised is used in a range of activities, which not only contribute to our communities, but help to prevent and reduce crime.”

Community groups can apply for Police Property Act funding for their projects through their neighbourhood policing teams. Their contact details can be found on www.west-midlands.police.uk or by calling police on 101. Other sources of community safety funding include West Midlands Police’s youth charity, Building Blocks, or the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Community Initiatives Fund.

Groups which have benefited from this year’s round of funding include:

Coventry’s Wild Earth who secured £1,000 to run a bushcraft and self-development programme for 16-19-year-olds.

Solihull’s Mohawks Ice Racing Club who were handed £630 to buy new skating equipment.

Handsworth Carers Group who were given £530 to fund a day trip for people caring for loved ones.

Kewford Eagles junior football club in Dudley were presented with a cheque for £450 for new kits.

Walsall’s Green Rivers Community Association were able to buy a new pool table thanks to a £500 handout.

Pupils at Tettenhall Wood Special School in Wolverhampton were able to meet Father Christmas in their very own grotto made possible through a £100 donation.

Sandwell Deaf Community Association received £1,020 to go towards a laptop computer, books and DVDs as part of a communications project.