FEARS are growing that criminals will be the big winners from massive police cuts.
It has now been confirmed that West Yorkshire Police is cutting more than 750 police officer positions as it implements a £90.5m budget cut.
But the Police Federation says that along with the number of officers being taken from the frontline, those who remain will be caught up having to do more administrative work in back offices to make up for huge cuts in civilian police staff.
Overall, nearly 2,250 police jobs will be cut over the next four years.
West Yorkshire Police is slashing 759 police officer positions as it implements a £90.5 million budget cut.
The region’s force will also see nearly 1,474 civilian staff job losses in the same period.
Long-serving Kirklees councillor Ken Smith, who has been on West Yorkshire Police Authority since 1986, says he is ‘depressed’ about what will happen.
“I’m depressed by it. I’ve seen a lot of changes in my time, but nothing as drastic as this. We may be faced with a slower response to crime, possibly less detection of crime and I’m pretty sure that public satisfaction will dip. Policing will suffer.
“The cuts are far too deep and far too quick. We have had remarkable successes in cutting down on crime in recent years but I’m now facing the future with trepidation that it will creep up again.’’
He said Kirklees is the largest police division in West Yorkshire in both its size and the number of officers.
“It is larger than some other police forces such as Lincolnshire and some of the southern shire forces.’’
Andrew Tempest-Mitchell, chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, said: “We already have 300 less officers in West Yorkshire than we had in 2009.
“When the Government proposed these cuts people said we were scaremongering, but people should now stand up and challenge the Government’s claim that this would not make an impact.’’
He said the huge cuts in civilian staff means that fewer police officers would have to spend more time doing office tasks such as administration and computing – making it a double whammy for the frontline.
Mr Tempest-Mitchell added: “These cuts will really start to bite when these officers are pulled from frontline duties.
“The only winners in all of this will be the criminals. There will be more burglaries and this sort of crime is already going up.
“The Government is playing with the issue of public protection. The police numbers should remain and we should not let the criminals win.’’
The figures released yesterday in a report produced by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) detail how the reduction in budget will impact on the service that forces deliver.
Under the proposals the number of police officers will be reduced from 5,758 to 4,999 (759) with a further 13 jobs being lost to Police Community Support Officers.
But the biggest cuts in West Yorkshire policing will be seen in civilian staff which will drop by more than a third from 3,539 to 2,065.
The Inspectorate’s report reads: “West Yorkshire Police and the Police Authority have committed to maintaining frontline services and neighbourhood policing, and protecting the public from serious harm.
“The force recognised that there is the potential for the financial cuts to have an impact on the service they deliver to their communities, but had yet to determine the detail of how to mitigate this risk.
“In particular, it needs to ensure that reducing the back and middle office does not mean so many extra duties are transferred to frontline officers that they are by necessity less available to the public.”
HM Inspector of Constabulary for the Northern Region, Roger Baker, said: “The force recognises that there is the potential for the financial cuts to have an impact on the service it delivers to its communities.
“HMIC believes that in having identified this risk, measures will be needed to address it.”
West Yorkshire Police Authority chairman Clr Mark Burns, said: “We have the responsibility for setting the budget and holding the Chief Constable to account for delivering services in West Yorkshire. We are talking about nearly a £100 million shortfall which is a significant gap.
“Clearly as Kirklees is the biggest division it is likely to see a significant reduction in both officers and civilian staff.
“In terms of manpower it will stretch the force to capacity and to take more 2,000 jobs out of the force will clearly have an impact on services.
“However, neighbourhood policing continues to be one of the priority areas and as a result numbers should not change. What is going to happen is extra pressure put on officers due to the loss of back-office staff and support staff.
“Operation Transform aims to help minimise this impact by centralising functions such as criminal justice support, scientific support and road policing.’’
Speaking on redundancies, he added: “There will be losses but many of these could be voluntary. People may have re-apply for their roles as we are trying to retain the best people with the skills we need.’’
Nationally, HMIC has estimated more than 30,000 police jobs – 16,200 officers and 16,100 civilian staff – will go by March 2015.
The organisation carried out an inspection of all 43 forces and authorities in England and Wales earlier this year to look at how they are dealing with budget cuts.