Budget proposals by West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner to pay for the recruitment of more police officers given the go ahead (5 Feb 2016)

For the first time in five years police officer recruitment will be opened up to the general public after budget proposals submitted by West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, got the go ahead.

Hundreds more new police officers can now be recruited into West Yorkshire Police (WYP) following restrictions on open recruitment since 2010 due to £140m of Government budget cuts, which saw police numbers drop by around 2,000. The West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel supported PCC Mark Burns-Williamson's proposal to increase the police council tax by 3.6 per cent. The rise will cost taxpayers, on average, less than eight pence a week, or £4 a year.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: "Continuing the recruitment of police officers and protecting Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) is crucial for the frontline and safeguarding resources as far as possible. Together with partners we are working ever more closer to make sure this happens. We know our communities want to see more officers and staff visible on the streets protecting the most vulnerable as part of our Neighbourhood Policing Teams and response capacity in dealing with emergency and serious incidents.
"Hundreds (around 300) more new police officers can now be recruited over the next year into West Yorkshire Police (WYP) and I am pleased to confirm that Special Constables and PCSOs will also continue to have the opportunity to become full-time police officers with ongoing internal recruitment, as well as opening up for wider recruitment amongst the general public. It will also enable real opportunities to increase the diversity of the workforce to better reflect the communities of West Yorkshire that we serve.

"When making the decision to increase the precept, I also considered many public views obtained from my recent Community Conversation survey with 76 per cent indicating they would support an increase of £5 or more and really welcome the Police and Crime Panel's support for this approach.

"West Yorkshire is an area with some of the greatest policing and community safety needs and yet the government is continuing to allocate money unfairly and is 'top slicing' our budget to fund other organisations and policing areas depriving West Yorkshire directly of at least £9m in 2016/17. That's why the outcome of the flawed police funding formula review later this year will be very significant in trying to address this ongoing unfairness to areas like West Yorkshire."

The increase is for the police element of the council tax and will help towards paying for the recruitment of the police officers over the next year and will ensure Police Community Support Officers (PCSO) numbers will be protected
at the current level of 565 throughout West Yorkshire despite an estimated £1million reduction in partner funding across the county, due to their budgets being heavily squeezed.

As well as the precept increase, other money for recruitment will be funded through ongoing efficiencies made from internal transformation projects and the WYP Programme of Change review.

He added: "The Home Office has set a clear expectation that police funding is based on the assumption that the police precept is maximised by Police and Crime Commissioners to mitigate the government cut of 2.25% to our budget next year.

"I continue to fight for a fairer deal for West Yorkshire but given the reductions in government funding going forward, the only means of allowing for new police officer, PCSO, and targeted staff recruitment is to increase the police council tax to help pay for them despite what was said in Parliament last year about police funding being protected.

"It is reassuring that the majority of the public surveyed and the Panel agree with this approach and the additional investment proposed,  recognising the need to start the job of rebuilding and protecting policing resources in West Yorkshire, which in recent years just hasn't been possible."

West Yorkshire Police, Temporary Chief Constable Dee Collins said:

"The Police and Crime Commissioner's commitment to the recruitment of additional officers and the protection of Police Community Support Officers is extremely welcome news.

"It supports the work that the Force has already achieved through its Programme of Change and the significant savings which we have made since the cuts to policing budgets began in 2010."

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