West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable admits 'I really feel for my staff' as officers forced to cancel rest days to cope with demand

West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable John Robins.
West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable John Robins.
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The Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police has admitted he "really feels" for frontline staff and their families after some have been forced to cancel rest days to cope with demand.

The Yorkshire Post revealed earlier this month how a number of officers have had to cancel their planned rest days, while others have been temporarily moved to the force's contact department to assist with answering 999 and 101 calls.

West Yorkshire Police said the move will enable staff to resolve more enquiries at the first point of contact and will ensure officers are only deployed to incidents which require their attendance.

Chief Constable John Robins said the force is having to move resources to make sure it gets the right quality investigations in the right areas.

He said: "Policing is a challenging environment, we all know that when we join up and we know that there are going to be restrictions on private life and there are going to be difficult working environments.

Read more: Yorkshire police officers forced to cancel rest days as force struggles under pressure
"There comes a point where I cannot sustain a service to the public and our staff have to step forward and they all do it. They work long hours and have cancelled rest days in order to maintain that service to the public.

"We are doing everything we can to innovate and work digitally and bring new processes in, but sometimes there comes a time where you need those resources and I do really feel for my frontline staff and their families.

"Thankfully its not as much as you might imagine, but it is part of being a public servant and there are times when we have to step forward."

Mr Robins said operational frontline staff are predominantly dealing with domestic abuse incidents, missing people and incidents associated with mental health.

This is on top of crime recording, calls for assistance from the general public and antisocial behaviour.

He said: "The dilemma we have got is the public expectation of what needs to be done within policing and the resources and availability of resources due to the last 10 years do not stack up and that is the challenge.

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"There are occasions where we are not delivering a service we wish we could do and that's not through a want of trying or through the frontline officers not wanting to do it.

"It is complex because it's not just new demand in terms of new types of crime such as cyber crime we have to deal with, but its the way we deal with previous demands in a different way which is more robust. With those missing from home or mental health issues we have to have the right care packages and referrals, but that all takes time.

"We have got new and emergency demands, existing demands and then we have also got historic demand in terms of child sexual exploitation and abuse. They need investigating because those victims need resolutions."

West Yorkshire Police Federation Chairman Brian Booth confirmed the force is battling to meet demand.

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Mr Booth, who represents ranked officers, said: "Call management has been hit like every other department, demand has increased and there is no flexibility left anywhere. So as previously quoted, this is “Robbing Peter to pay Paul” and the harsh reality of modern policing.

"Officers are being moved to deal with the huge demand in calls, whilst police leaders try and maintain a frontline response. Officers are having their shifts changed and rest days cancelled to meet everyday demand.

"This is having a clear effect on our members and this will eventually wear our officers out, resulting in increased fatigue / sickness within the service.

"I’m hoping the next Prime Minister will come to the aid of policing and deliver on promises of sustainable long term funding."