POLICE in Kirklees have a temporary new boss.
Chief Superintendent Chris Hardern is pledging to support staff affected by recent incidents including the fatal shooting of gunman Alistair Bell in Kirkheaton.
He said he would also be looking at how policing in the division could be done more efficiently as West Yorkshire Police faces a 20% budget cut over the next four years.
The 51-year-old has been made acting divisional commander until April 4, in the absence of divisional commander John Robins.
Mr Robins, also the Chief Superintendent, is on a strategic command course for aspiring senior officers looking to climb the management ladder.
It is the second time Chief Supt Hardern has been in Huddersfield. He was chief inspector of operations, in charge of uniformed policing, in 2001-02.
“I’m really pleased to be back,” he said.
“Since being promoted to superintendent, this is one of those jobs I’ve looked at as something I’d love to do. I still know quite a lot of the staff and the familiarity helps.
“The division is performing really well in terms of reducing crime and increasing confidence in policing. I want to continue the good work until John comes back.”
Chief Supt Hardern, a father-of-two who lives in Huddersfield, has spent time in Leeds, Calderdale and Keighley, as well as the operational support unit based in Wakefield since his last stint in Huddersfield.
He rejoins the division less than a month after a police officer was shot by 42-year-old Alistair Bell in Kirkheaton on December 27.
Mr Bell was shot dead by a police marksman in the early hours of the following morning.
That incident was immediately followed by the sudden death of 46-year-old Pc Jon Hobman, of the Huddersfield North Neighbourhood Policing Team, on December 30.
Chief Supt Hardern said: “The incident in Kirkheaton clearly had an impact on the community but it also had an impact on the police staff that were involved.
“Then we had the tragedy of Jon Hobman, who sadly died suddenly. That affects people at work as well. Supporting staff through those incidents is part of my role.”
During the next 10 weeks he also intends to assess how efficiently police work is being done.
He said: “I don’t intend to be changing loads of stuff in three months and certainly the chief constable wants to maintain the policing that people see – neighbourhood policing, response and the local investigation of crime.
“So people shouldn’t see anything different. What we might be asking long-term is for the cops on the ground to be doing more. It’s going to be a difficult balance, for every force.”
He said financial pressures would inevitably have an impact.
“The bottom line is when you look at 20% reduction in funding over four years, somewhere the number of officers will reduce.
“We have to work out how to use them more efficiently.
“My role here is to have a look at what we have got and if we can consider the impact of cuts on divisions, although the force wants to reduce the impact on divisions as much as possible.”