ALMOST 6,000 fewer officers will be on the policing frontline in three years’ time as a result of the Government’s budget cuts.
But West Yorkshire police chiefs insist their plans will keep more officers on the streets.
New figures revealed that a fifth of front counters in police stations will also close, the report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found.
There will be 5,800 fewer frontline officers, but the proportion of officers on the beat and patrol will increase to between 81% and 95% as the number of non-frontline officers is almost halved, with 7,600 going by 2015, the report said.
West Yorkshire Police insist their plans will see them retain a higher proportion of officers out on the streets, although the force will be smaller. So far the workforce has reduced by 562 officers and 682 staff and more will go before 2015.
But Deputy Chief Constable John Parkinson said: “The focus is still on the frontline.
“Frontline services in West Yorkshire are being protected as far as possible by making more of the cuts in back-office functions.
“West Yorkshire Police has one of the highest proportions of its staff dedicated to the frontline and we intend to maintain that position.”
The report coincided with news that a former Mayor of Calderdale and the current West Yorkshire Police Authority chairman will go head to head to become one of the UK’s first high-powered civilian police bosses.
Calderdale councillor Geraldine Carter, a former member of the Police Authority, and Mark Burns Williamson, the current chairman, have been selected to stand for election to become West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner PCC.
The new elected commissioner, who will attract a salary in the region of £100,000 a year, will be responsible for the duties of the current police authority which is being abolished.
The PCC will set the budget for West Yorkshire Police and hold the Chief Constable to account, with the ultimate ability to have him or her dismissed.
The post proposes the largest change towards democratic reform of the police and criminal justice system in a generation and will see funding for a range of services, including £50m victim support, determined at local level.
Policing Minister Nick Herbert said yesterday: “The needs of victims vary locally and PCCs, much more than central Government, will be best placed to decide what their communities want.”
Both West Yorkshire candidates have been instrumental in the Police Authority over the last decade.
Mr Burns-Williamson has been a member of West Yorkshire Police Authority since 1998 and chairman for the last nine. He is also a Labour Councillor for Castleford.
Mrs Carter served on West Yorkshire Police Authority between 2004 and 2008.
She was first elected to Calderdale Council in 1998, becoming mayor in 2003, and deputy mayor in 2007.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the role of PCCs would be a “big job for a big local figure”.