Police face cuts to diving teams

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Money-saving plans to cut the number of police underwater search divers in Yorkshire from 28 to 10 are to be tabled later this week.

Chief officers believe the region’s forces could save more than £400,000 a year by merging Yorkshire’s three search teams into a single unit.

The new diving team would probably be based in the Humberside force area but be on hand to search ports, rivers, coastal and inland waterways across the region.

The proposals come less than a week after the Yorkshire Post revealed specialist police units could shrink as the region’s four forces battle to cope with cuts of £200m over four years.

A report recommending the creation of a regional Marine and Under Water Search Unit will be presented to Yorkshire’s joint police authorities committee tomorrow.

The report reveals that there are currently three units in Yorkshire – based in the West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Humberside force areas.

North Yorkshire Police does not have a dedicated team, but pays for West Yorkshire divers to carry out operations on its behalf.

The three units comprise 28 divers - five who dive full-time and 23 who perform additional duties. Under the proposals, they will be replaced by a 10-strong team of divers working full-time.

The report suggests the new arrangements would cut the annual underwater search bill by more than a third, from £1,125,628 to £719,083.

“By consolidating diving provision into one base,” the paper states, “it enables savings through better return on investment of training and equipment.”

Money could be saved if some of the team were civilians, rather than officers with powers of arrest, the report adds.

There are only 13 police underwater search units nationwide, with a total of 120 divers.

Units are based in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire but large swathes of the country have no provision at all, including the whole of the West Midlands.