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Merger plans for elite police unit

REASSURANCE: Police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson.

REASSURANCE: Police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson.

THE team of detectives responsible for investigating murders and other major crimes is to be merged with other units as part of money-saving plans.

West Yorkshire Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry (HMET) team, which has led probes into some of the country’s most high profile cases including the murder of Pc Sharon Beshenivsky, will become part of the force’s larger Protective Services Crime Department, including the previously separate Crime and Operations departments, in April.

Detectives fear the move, which will also see officers investigating organised crime brought into the newly-merged unit, will reduce the quality of specialist investigations “from a Marks and Spencer service to a Poundland service”.

Bosses, who are trying to make up to £154 million in savings between 2010 and 2017, say the move will bring greater co-ordination across the force and help staff become skilled in other areas of policing.

It admits “there will be a reduction in the numbers of resources within the department” though “efficiency improvements will compensate for this.”

HMET, a specialist team of elite detectives, have been responsible for taking on investigations into all murders and other high-profile investigations since being formed around 2006.

The number of detectives available has dropped in recent years, as the force battles to cope with “unfair” funding cuts.

Assistant chief constable Craig Guildford said: “The principle behind bringing together Crime, HMET and Operations is not only to look at responding to serious crime, but also to targeting those who present the greatest threat of harm to our communities.

“These teams, collectively, have been successful in reducing the number of serious incidents such as homicide and therefore we want to use their significant experience to look at a broader range of serious crime, for example criminal use of firearms.”

THE merger is part of West Yorkshire Police’s programme of change scheme to balance the force’s books and transform the way it does business in the face of dramatic funding cuts.

It has already cut the number of policing divisions covering Leeds and Bradford from five to two and removed a number of management positions, as well as reducing the number of custody suites it uses from 10 to six.

Police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said the latest move would help “tackle all levels of crime that impacts on communities”. He said: “I want to reassure people that these new developments are about effectively delivering the already nationally recognised quality of major crime investigations in West Yorkshire.”

 

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