STUDENTS have been recruited to carry out research for West Yorkshire Police – as the force faces continuing pressure on its budgets.
Criminology students from Leeds Metropolitan University will analyse the way burglaries and complaints of anti-social behaviour are dealt with by police in the city.
Their findings could influence how officers respond to incidents as the move comes as West Yorkshire Police tries to slash £104m – or 22 per cent – of its budget by 2015.
Pc Mark Bottomley, from North West Leeds police, said: “We have an opportunity to use these people – as we are short of resources – to give us a fresh view on key areas.”
He added: “They will be working under police supervision in the student community while also providing an invaluable boost to neighbourhood policing team resources.”
About 50 students, wearing high-visibility clothing, joined police for the first time last night.
Working predominantly in the student areas of Headingley, Hyde Park and Woodhouse, they were given the task of speaking to crime victims to assess the standard of service they receive from police. They will also be attempting to come up with answers to problems with anti-social behaviour.
Senior lecturer Dr Sarah Kingston said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for students to take some responsibility for dealing with prominent policing issues in their community while at the same time providing academic analysis support to the West Yorkshire Police.”
However Jon Christopher, vice chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, expressed concern that the project could pave the way for unpaid volunteers to take on policing roles.
“If it assists the police and helps communities, that’s a good thing.
“But my concern would be that if it continues and is extended, it could very well be taking roles away from frontline police,” he said.