West Yorkshire Police could attend only one out of three crimes as cuts bite

Police officers in West Yorkshire could be sent to just one in three incidents in future in a bid to cope with huge budget cuts.

Friday, 20th November 2015, 4:18 pm
Mark Burns Williamson and Dee Collins met West Yorkshire MPs this week to discuss the impact of cuts

The plans would see two thirds of reports dealt with remotely or by appointment at police stations.

Temporary Chief Constable Dee Collins said the force was having to distinguish between what "we could do and what we must do" in the face of drastic funding reductions.

Since 2010 West Yorkshire Police has saved £138m of the £140m it was told to cut by 2016. It has lost 2,000 staff, now employing just over 8,000.

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Further cuts of between 25 and 40 per cent are expected to be announced by Chancellor George Osborne next week following the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).

Ms Collins said: “We are now approaching a crucial point where further cuts will undoubtedly mean we, like other public services, can no longer go about our core purposes in the same way as before. In the future, we will need to distinguish between what we could do and what we must do to keep the most vulnerable in our county safe.

“We have already begun some analysis around the demands placed upon the Force which will help us to understand just how we can effectively operate against the backdrop of cuts.

“For instance, we have identified that there is a potential to deal with around two thirds of the incidents we handle through station appointments or technology, rather than a reliance on officer attendance.

"This could potentially free up time to handle more pressing priorities and offer a greater visibility to the public."

Ms Collins and West Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson say the force has already been among the hardest hit by reductions in funding.

They met West Yorkshire MPs this week to outline the impact that would have.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: “During the meeting I told the MPs in no uncertain terms about what yet more cuts would mean. The government is taking a gamble with public safety.

“Even at the lowest end of the proposed cuts – 25 per cent on top of what is already a greatly reduced policing budget – we are looking at a different policing service to what people know.

“If a 25 per cent cut goes through people will see a change in how West Yorkshire Police goes about everything it does – from tackling anti-social behaviour to keeping people safe from the threat of terrorism.

“A 40 per cent cut would be simply catastrophic and unthinkable. Either way the Government would be taking a massive gamble but there is still time to stop these deep and damaging cuts. I urged the MPs to use their influence to join me in the fight against the level of cuts and to protect neighbourhood policing."

Mr Burns-Williamson said more cuts would "inevitably have an adverse effect on front line policing".