West Yorkshire Police’s reserves will be mostly used up within five years because of the funding crisis facing the force, the county’s police and crime commissioner has warned MPs.
In a letter to Parliamentary representatives, Mark Burns-Williamson urges them to make the case for more central funding, as he says the current ‘flat cash’ settlement from the Government is putting public safety at risk.
Ahead of next week’s Budget, he has warned that police officers and staff are under enormous pressure, with rising levels of sickness having “serious implications” for recruitment and retention.
One West Yorkshire MP says the “systemic failure” in funding is damaging the public’s confidence in the police service, with the number of officers devoted to neighbourhood policing cut in recent years. Mr Burns-Williamson says most of West Yorkshire Police’s £95m reserves will have been spent by 2022, with up to £11m used this year alone to fund frontline policing.
“The price we will pay for an under-resourced police service in West Yorkshire is too high,” he said in the letter.
“The police’s ability to combat crime and properly protect the public here in West Yorkshire is under strain and the cost to our communities is being seen in a rise in response times, an increase in crime and a decrease in confidence levels.
“Since 2010, we have had a budget cut of £140m and the loss of 2,000 police officers and staff with police numbers at the lowest level for many years.
“The pressure this has put the police under as forces like ours try to protect frontline policing and find efficiencies elsewhere is significant and, in today’s context, unsustainable.
“In our county we continue to police by consent with neighbourhood policing as the cornerstone of community safety but to continue to do this we need to invest more in the frontline.”