Drug services ‘may be seriously hampered by cuts’

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WEST Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner fears services to help criminals with drug problems will be seriously undermined by a new wave of spending cuts.

Mark Burns-Williamson, left, voiced concerns after the announcement that the Government was reducing community safety funding grants by 25 per cent nationally, from £120m to £90m. The equivalent cut would see West Yorkshire’s allocation slashed from £5.3m to £3.975m,

Cash is currently provided to the police and partner organisations to promote community safety initiatives, including drug treatment and testing services.

But Mr Burns-Williamson, who will become responsible for allocating funding under the new regime, said the cut was likely to have a “serious impact”.

He said: “There are a range of good projects around drug testing and intervention that benefit from grants. It hasn’t been made clear yet how the reductions will apply to us, but we’re assuming that the national cut of 25 per cent will come into effect here.

“This will inevitably lead to the loss of staff, which will have an unavoidable impact on the services they provide.”

Mr Burns-Williamson said it was too early to say how the cuts would directly affect the organisations that work alongside the police and probation service in providing support to drug users.

But said he would be left with some “difficult decisions”.

Mr Burns-Williamson is in the process of gauging public opinion on what police priorities should be ahead of drafting a Police and Crime Plan in the new year.