Policing cuts must not hit public safety

WHEN West Yorkshire chief constable Sir Norman Bettison revealed last month that budget cuts meant he would lose 1,500 staff over the next four years, he said there were two issues he was "prepared to die in a ditch over".

The first was that local policing – or as he described it: "The sort of policing you see when you open your curtains" – must not suffer.

Secondly, he was adamant that his force must remain well-equipped to respond to emergencies where members of the public were in peril or had been victims of a criminal act or personal tragedy.

His evident concern over the fact that circumstances now dictate that 500 of the 1,500 staff to go must be serving police officers suggests he is far from confident of keeping those promises.

And he will not be the only one worried at the impact the cuts will have on public safety.

We are all well aware that huge savings need to be made and tough decisions taken.

However, it is hard to see how the loss of hundreds of officers cannot have a detrimental effect on the standard of frontline policing across West Yorkshire.

It is up to the Government to reassure both ourselves and Sir Norman that this enforced dip in officer numbers will not compromise public safety.

If ministers are unable to do so, they must rethink the depth of those cuts.

'Ell of a night

LEEDS United's brilliant FA Cup display against Arsenal has reignited interest in the Whites.

Together with last season's heroics against Manchester United and Spurs, it means the football world is once again taking us seriously.

Plenty have taken pleasure from United's financial meltdown and subsequent tumble down the divisions.

Now there is a real sense that the club is back among the big boys.

Simon Grayson has instilled belief in his players that they have got what it takes to return to the Premiership.

And Saturday's performance at the Emirates showed the world that Leeds are a force to be reckoned with once more.

The clamour for tickets to see Leeds down the Gunners at Elland Road next Wednesday reflects the new-found optimism surrounding United.

It's the sort of night fans have been longing for. Now let's hope the lads finish off the job and go a long way in the competition.

After all, scoring a few more psychological points over Premier League opposition might well come in very handy for next season.

Cleaning up

FOR the last decade Leeds launderette owner Elaine Fish has been keeping our soaps clean.

She's washed, dried and ironed clothes and props for the likes of Emmerdale, as well as some of the show's best-loved stars...

And there we were thinking our favourite soaps washed all their dirty laundry in public.

The presenters of children's television programme 'Blue Peter' in 1972 (from left) Peter Purves, Lesley Judd, Valerie Singleton and John Noakes with his dog 'Shep'. PA Wire

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