West Yorkshire Police to lose 500 front line bobbies

Five hundred police officer jobs will be axed in West Yorkshire during the next four years, the YEP can reveal.

Chief constable Norman Bettison has disclosed plans to reduce the force's number of uniformed officers by almost nine per cent.

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Another 1,000 civilian support jobs will be lost, with around 300 staff facing compulsory redundancy.

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Labour's shadow home secretary Ed Balls will today highlight the scale of cuts faced by West Yorkshire Police during an evidence session of the influential Commons home affairs select committee.

The majority of the police officer job losses will be met by a recruitment freeze and so-called natural wastage, as officers who retire are not replaced.

But the force has also not ruled out using an obscure regulation which allows the "forcibly retirement" of officers who have notched up more than 30 years of service.

Sir Norman has described this as "at best a blunt instrument" and said it will only be considered if there are "log jams relating to specific ranks".

The force has an annual budget of 450m, but must slash 90m from that over four years.

Sir Norman last month revealed that the funding squeeze meant an estimated 1,500 staff will be lost over four years but he did not provide figures for how many of those would be police officers.

Now, in a letter to Mr Balls and a Labour councillor in Halifax, Sir Norman has estimated that around 500 of the job losses will be police officers and 1,000 will be civilian support staff.

Around 300 of the civilian job losses will be "enforced redundancies".

Speaking to the YEP, Mr Balls warned that "front line policing will inevitably suffer".

He said: "These are very substantial reductions not just in police officers but also non-police officers.

"Police forces across England and Wales have been hit disproportionately hard by the spending cuts.

"The large metropolitan areas have been disproportionately hit compared to other police forces – so it's a double unfairness for West Yorkshire."

Sir Norman last month said he is prepared to "die in a ditch" to protect neighbourhood bobbies and emergency response times.

Crime prevention initiatives, IT, roads policing and support staff dealing with abusive images, combating organised crime and civilian analysts working with Homicide and Major Enquires Team are believed to be vulnerable.

West Yorkshire Police has a total of 10,481 staff, including 5,758 police officers, 3,530 civilian staff, 763 police community support officers and 421 special constables.

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