He is a man faced with the toughest challenges of 21st century policing. Now Crime Reporter Louise Cooper hears from Chief Supt Tim Kingsman about the highs and lows of 2014 and the necessary changes ahead to meet force budget cuts.
“There will come a tipping point where the public will notice a visible reduction of police officers.”
Those words are the gloomy prediction from Chief Supt Tim Kingsman who has overall responsibility for policing in Kirklees.
But despite the bleak financial outlook - a third of the budget has already been cut since Government announced the Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010 - Mr Kingsman remains passionately committed to making the division a safer place to live and work.
He added: “We can’t keep doing everything we have done with the reduced budget. There will come a tipping point where the public will notice a visible reduction of police officers.”
Mr Kingsman previously told the Examiner how Neighbourhood Policing numbers had been ‘locked down’ but now believes this will no longer be sustainable.
“I don’t know when, not 2015 but going into 2016/17, it will happen. One of the priorities of the new Operating Model, which merged policing area boundaries and saw some senior officers re-deployed, is to keep as many frontline officers on the streets.
“We’ve managed to do it so far and whilst making millions of pounds worth of savings.
“The danger is now we’ve achieved it we know that there will be more to come.”
But Mr Kingsman said until West Yorkshire’s Crime Commisioner Mark Burns-Williamson sets the budget for 2015/16 he is in the dark about how this will affect his officer numbers.
“I have to wait and see, we don’t yet know what the outcome is from the council, who help fund our Police Community Support Officers, and the Police Crime Commissioner.
“Obviously I would like to have more staff, or the same as I’ve currently got. There will be an impact, and it may well affect perception of police on the front line.”
A further blow to Kirklees division could come if the council withdraw its £629,000 financial contribution towards PCSOs in the next financial year.
But Mr Kingsman added: “All I can say is I will do the best for the people of Kirklees with the resources I’m allocated.”
Part of the new Operating Model saw officers’ shift patterns changed to reduce overtime and improve staff efficiency. But Mr Kingsman admits the shift changes did not work and have now been in part reversed.
He added: “We introduced a new officer shift pattern which we didn’t get quite right. We had to tweak that a little bit, in essence we put more staggered starting times on but it was actually harder to control so staff were talking about a lack of sense of team so we’ve gone back on that.
“There is a force-wide review of shift patterns ongoing at the moment so we aren’t going to change things again now until we know what is coming.
“We are also aware that just because we have made changes with a new operating model once, in all likelihood we will have to do it again.
“That’s the nature of policing.
“That said, I am proud of what my officers have achieved this year.
“Policing of the Tour de France in Kirklees. was clearly a highlight of 2014.
“Our Huddersfield Inspector Jonathan Dunkerley did a fantastic job co-ordinating the policing of the event in Huddersfield and we had a very positive response not just from the public but from our own officers who enjoyed working across the weekend.
“Clearly staffing an event of this scale meant rest days had to be cancelled but on the whole it was a really good from a policing and sporting event which has ultimately benefitted Kirklees.
“On the other side of the scale this year we had the EDL protest in Batley in August.
“There were no incidents of disorder and very few complaints from the community. Our aim was to ensure the people of Batley felt safe and I think we achieved that.
“Other notable achievement this year included a covert operation ongoing regarding drug supply and firearms which ended in Newcastle and involved a great deal of resources. “The case has been going through the courts and will be dealt with this month.”
“At the same time we ran Operation Overwood which targeted street dealers so it was a two-pronged attack.
“Looking a the bigger picture, overall crime is down in Kirklees, burglary at the start of the year Kirklees as a district was at the wrong end of its target.
“A lot of work has been done to turn that round and overall crime in the district continues to fall year-on-year.”
Asked if he feels other areas of the district, for example areas with higher crime rates, are put above the policing needs of Kirklees he added:
“I will fight the corner for Kirklees and I am quite confident I have a cohesive argument for retaining officer numbers.
“That said, do I think I can continue with the number of officers as it is? No.”
Looking towards 2015 and beyond Mr Kingsman explains safeguarding remains an area where resources are to be prioritised.
“We were beginning to understand the world of safeguarding a bit better, then Rotherham came out (the report into estimated that 1,400 children had been sexually abused in the town between 1997 and 2013), so the rules changed.
“We have already put extra resources in safeguarding units, both in adult and childrens safeguarding, and that’s not just because of Child Sexual Exploitation CSE.
“We are talking are vulnerable adults and children and we need to protect them and never stop doing that.
“This is a growth area and there needs to be a change in policing in response to it.”