West Yorkshire Police under fire for poor response to budget cuts

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WEST Yorkshire Police has responded “poorly” to Government spending cuts and may put the service it offers to the public at risk when further savings are required in coming years, a damning report has revealed.

The force, which has been asked to make annual savings of £96m by 2015 as a result of the 2010 spending review which cut the Government’s police grant by 20 per cent, was one of five forces singled out for criticism by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

The report said the force, and neighbouring South Yorkshire Police, had “chosen to take the (relatively) easy option by relying on short term savings rather than transforming their efficiency”. It came as new figures from the Home Office revealed crime in West Yorkshire fell by ten per cent last year, the ninth successive fall. Burglaries dropped by 26 per cent between 2011/12 and 2012/13 and the number of murder victims fell by 64 per cent, though the number of sexual offences rose by 37 per cent.

The HMIC report on police budgets said West Yorkshire Police faced “significant challenges” in making savings needed but had “responded poorly”. It said: “The force has failed to grasp the same opportunities to transform as other forces, and left large elements of its operation untouched.

“As currently configured, its operating model is unaffordable in this spending review period, and the force now has less time to make significant change.”

Responding to the report, West Yorkshire Police chief constable Mark Gilmore said: “I fully accept the HMIC assessment that the force has not so far grasped the same opportunities to transform and deliver savings as other forces and will be working alongside the Police and Crime Commissioner, with other partners, to find better ways to deliver the significant savings that need to be made.”

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