A THIRD of all West Yorkshire Police investigations now involve non-recent child sexual exploitation cases, according to a briefing paper detailing the acute pressures now facing the force.
The paper, called Demanding Times, highlights a series of increasing demands on the service including a dramatic rise in the number of reported cases of child sexual exploitation which surged by 150 per cent between 2013 and 2016.
The analysis, presented to local MPs, warns the force’s ability to tackle crime and protect the most vulnerable in society is under serious threat unless the Government urgently provides more money for the service.
It details a desperate financial plight allied to a growth in demand swamping a depleted workforce, which is reporting increasing levels of sickness.
Last night the Home Office rejected the local analysis with a spokesman saying decisions should be “based on evidence rather than assertion” but West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mark Burns-Williamson said there had been cross-party support for more funding when he presented the briefing to MPs on Tuesday evening.
The analysis highlights a 35 per cent reduction in funding since 2010, resulting in almost 1,400 fewer staff. It says on top of £140m savings already delivered, forecasts predict a further £13m recurrent savings will need to be made.
The paper goes on to illustrate the impact on policing, including a five per cent fall in arrests, a 24 per cent drop in stop and search, and the number of fixed penalty notices for speeding and mobile phone usage, cited as key causes of accidents, falling by 15 per cent.
There has also been significant decline in response times from 2013/14 when the force attended 90.9 per cent of emergency calls within 15 minutes and 90 per cent of all priority calls within 60 minutes to, so far in 2017/18, just below 80 per cent and just over 70 per cent respectively.
The briefing also highlights that all five of our force’s districts have reported sickness associated with stress, anxiety and depression is increasing.
It concludes by saying: “The pressures we now face are becoming increasingly untenable. A stand still position, or indeed any further reductions of funding, will continue to significantly impact on the quality of service we are able to provide.”
Chief Constable Dee Collins said: “We will continue do all we can to protect the residents of West Yorkshire, but it must be stressed that any further budget cuts and a failure to re-invest in policing will continue to challenge our ability to deliver long term problem solving to combat crime and the effects of crime in both our residential and business communities.”
But a Home Office spokesman said: “West Yorkshire Police has received £408.3 million in total direct resource funding this year, which is £3.7 million more than 2015-16. We note that West Yorkshire Police’s reserves have almost tripled since 2011, standing at £91.1m in March 2017. We recognise that demand on the police is changing, and we are very sensitive to the pressure they are under. That is why we are reviewing demand and resilience, as well as police plans for greater efficiency and prudent use of over £1.6 billion of financial reserves.”