West Yorkshire’s new police tsar sounds warning over drug service

Mark Burns-Williamson.
Mark Burns-Williamson.
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Have your say

West Yorkshire’s new police tsar fears services to help criminals with drug problems will be seriously undermined by a new wave of spending cuts.

Mark Burns-Williamson voiced concerns after the announcement that the Government was reducing community safety funding grants by 25 per cent nationally, from £120m to £90m.

Cash is currently provided to the police and partner organisations to promote community safety initiatives, including drug treatment and testing services.

But Mr Burns-Williamson said the cut, which would see West Yorkshire’s allocation slashed from £5.3m to £3.975m if the 25 per cent reduction was applied, was likely to have a “serious impact”.

He said: “There are a range of good projects around drug testing and intervention that benefit from grants. It hasn’t been made clear yet how the reductions will apply to us, but we’re assuming that the national cut of 25 per cent will come into effect here.

“This will inevitably lead to the loss of staff, which will have an unavoidable impact on the services they provide.”

In Leeds, the police and probation service are supported by a range of organisations and charities in providing treatment and support to drug users.

Mr Burns-Williamson, who will become directly responsible for how money is spent, said it was too early to say how the cuts to community safety funding would directly affect them.

But he said he would be left with some “difficult decisions”.

He added: “During the election campaign, I made a big play of the funding situation, because I believe that West Yorkshire gets an unfair deal.

“I will continue to make the case for a better deal, while seeking to provide a good and effective police service under the circumstances.”

Mr Burns-Williamson is in the process of gauging public opinion on what the priorities should be for policing and funding.

To have your say, visit: www.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk

Saphieh Ashtiany, the equality and employment lawyer

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