Statement Ahead of Comprehensive Spending Review (20 Nov 2015)

The West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, and Temporary Chief Constable, Dee Collins, met with West Yorkshire MPs at the House of Commons on Tuesday (17 November) to explain what cuts of between 25% and 40%, to be announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), could mean for policing and community safety across the county.

West Yorkshire is the fourth largest police force in England and Wales and has areas of some of the greatest policing need but is one of the hardest hit by Government cuts.

The Police and Crime Commissioner and T/CC wanted to explain to MPs what even further damaging cuts would mean to policing in their communities and ask them to put pressure on the Government in advance of the CSR for the resources to protect neighbourhood policing.

Mark 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% - 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% 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% 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.

During the meeting the Police and Crime Commissioner and Temporary Chief Constable reiterated their commitment to neighbourhood policing.

Mark Burns-Williamson added:

"As long and I am Police and Crime Commissioner neighbourhood policing will be a top priority and it plays a vital role in making sure our communities are safer and feel safer.

"The Temporary Chief Constable and I are doing our very best to maintain this commitment but less money means less resources. We have already gone from an organisation in 2010 with just over 10,000 people to one which now has just over 8,000. With 80% of our budget spent on people any further cuts will inevitably have an adverse effect on front line policing.

"I also felt it important that Temporary Chief Constable Dee Collins was at the meeting with MPs. T/CC Collins made clear the specific operational risk West Yorkshire Police would carry and the implications involved of more cuts on our communities.

"The Temporary Chief Constable also made it clear that West Yorkshire Police has transformed significantly in the past five years, achieving what can only be described as substantial savings."

Temporary Chief Constable Dee Collins said:

"Since the beginning of the Government austerity measures in 2010, we have been required to deliver £140m in savings by 31 March 2016. The savings we have already made and the plans we have in place mean we will have achieved £138m of this.

"Based on our current projections, in 2017 an additional £23.4m is required and £19m of this has already been identified, however, a further £4.4m must still be found.

"In summary, we must find £6.4m over the next two years and this is before we factor in the additional 25% to 40% cuts to policing that are due to be announced by the Chancellor next week.

"Until we know the scale of the Government cuts, we cannot predict with any certainty just how they will impact upon our services and in what areas. What we do know however, is that we will have to make some extremely difficult decisions, even if the cuts emerge at the lower end of that register.

"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.

"We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more about what the latest Government austerity measures will mean for policing in West Yorkshire and how that will affect the services we provide."

CSR Press Release Clarification (updated 15:30 20/11/15)
In relation to the press release issued earlier today, West Yorkshire Police would like to clarify that it has no current plans to attend only one in three crimes.

Recent research was conducted by the Force, in which we dip sampled a number of crimes and identified the potential to handle two thirds of those through police station appointments or technology, rather than officer attendance. However, all crimes are assessed on a threat, risk and harm basis and we are always mindful of the wishes and needs of victims, particularly those who are vulnerable.

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