HUDDERSFIELD’S police chief has been promoted to Assistant Chief Constable.
And one of John Robins’ first tasks is to talk about how budget cuts may affect the number of bobbies there are on Huddersfield’s streets.
Nationally it was revealed that the number of police officers in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest level in nine years, figures showed today.
There were 134,101 officers in the 43 police forces at the end of last September, more than 5,000 fewer than the previous year and fewer than at any point since 2003, the Home Office data showed.
The number of police staff was also down, dropping 8.8% to 67,474.
The number of police community support officers (Pcsos) also fell, down 9% to 14,393.
But the number of volunteer special constables rose 10.4% to 20,343, the figures showed.
Assistant Chief Constable John Robins – who had been in charge of police in Kirklees since December 2008 – said: “The effectiveness of policing cannot be measured by officer numbers alone.
“During the period of this report, West Yorkshire Police and Kirklees has seen reductions in crime, reductions in anti-social behaviour and an increase in the public confidence in their local police.
“We are maintaining our commitment to protect the numbers of frontline officers and staff where possible and to deliver through our approach to Neighbourhood Policing Teams.
“In order to make the savings in our overall budget, we have had to reduce the numbers of police officers and police staff.
“However, we have done this with minimal impact on frontline services by reducing officers in headquarters, support and other none front line roles.
“We were very pleased to note the HMIC report last week which highlighted that West Yorkshire Police is maintaining its commitment to frontline policing, despite tough financial challenges.
“It predicted that West Yorkshire Police will have 94% of our officers (and 79% of the total workforce) on the frontline come 2015.
“Only two of the 43 forces have a higher officer figure, at 95% projected.’’
Policing and Criminal Justice Minister Nick Herbert said of the national picture: “These reductions in officer numbers are in line with HMIC (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary) predictions as a result of necessary savings by forces who are playing their part in reducing the deficit.
“However, HMIC projections also showed that 94% of officers in the frontline will remain, the proportion on the frontline is increasing and service to the public is largely being maintained.
“We inherited a situation where there were some 25,000 officers not on the frontline so there was plenty of scope for forces to make savings while improving performance, as forces are showing as they continue to drive down crime.”
But Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “The Tory-led Government has cut nearly 10,000 police officers from communities across the country.
“And we know that substantially more than half are from 999, neighbourhood and traffic response – the officers we rely on in an emergency.
“These figures show the cuts to the police are deeper and faster even than experts predicted.
“In just two years the Government has taken police numbers back by nearly a decade, weakened police powers, undermined morale and reduced crime prevention.’’
The Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales warned that unpaid volunteer special constables should not be used to replace fully-trained officers.
ACC Robins was confirmed in his new role yesterday, replacing John Parkinson who was appointed Deputy Chief Constable in April.
ACC Robins joined West Yorkshire Police in 1990 and was most recently in charge of Kirklees police.
Police Authority chairman Clr Mark Burns-Williamson said: “We had a number of strong candidates to consider for this role and John proved himself to be capable of dealing with the challenges that he will face within a force the size of West Yorkshire.’’
Acting Chief Supt Dave Lunn remains temporarily in charge of policing in Kirklees.