FEARS were today raised about the future of front line policing in West Yorkshire in the week riots hit cities across the UK.
The force faces slashing up to 2,000 police and civilian jobs to meet government funding cuts of up to £100m over the next four years.
The chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Authority, Mark Burns-Williamson, today renewed his plea to the Government to rethink the cuts.
He told the YEP front line officers will be taken off the beat at times to deal with jobs previously done by civilian staff whose posts are being axed.
Mr Burns-Williamson said: “We are going to lose the capacity in future if the cuts go through to be able to deploy in the same kind of numbers when crisis situations crop up.
“I’m concerned about the current level of cuts that are proposed. The Government definitely need to think again.”
He said officers will be asked to “do more” in future, adding: “At times that will mean them being taken away from patrol duties to deal with making out reports and things previously done by dedicated support staff.”
Mr Burns Williamson paid tribute to the force’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPTs) for helping ensure Leeds did not fall victim to widespread disorder seen across the country.
Andy Tempest-Mitchell, chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation which represents 6,000 officers, also backed the call for the government to step back from swingeing cuts.
He said police would struggle to deal with any possible future large scale riots in the county if they went ahead.
Mr Tempest-Mitchell said: “Police officers feel they are being attacked by the government. The cuts are too large and too quick. The government need to think urgently and pull back from the cuts and protect the public.
“There will be parts of the police service provided now that will not be possible when the cuts are made.”
The force has an annual budget of £438m and employs around 9,500 people.
Earlier this week chief constable Sir Norman Bettison said the force’s 48 NPTs will be kept at all costs despite the cuts.
A West Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “This week we have launched the ‘Here for Good’ campaign which highlights the Force’s commitment to Neighbourhood Policing and our pledge to have officers on the streets protecting our communities.
“The Force continues to believe that, in spite of the financial challenges, officers should be dedicated to their ‘patch’ so that they become more visible, accessible and familiar and almost 2,000 staff are to be retained to be able to achieve these objectives and deal with local communities directly.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “The urgent need to take action to address our budget deficit is clear from events across the world right now.
“The reductions in the police budget for the spending review period are manageable. There is no question that the police will still have the resources to do their important work.
“At the end of this spending review period, the police will still have enough officers to deploy in the kind of numbers we’ve seen in the past couple of days.”