Police in West Yorkshire ‘wince’ at impact of cuts

West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Nick Smart
West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Nick Smart
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Police representatives from West Yorkshire have warned MPs that cuts to the service could seriously jeopardise public safety.

West Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, visited parliament today as it launched its Cuts Have Consequences campaign.

Officials told politicians – including shadow police minister Jack Dromey and Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Committee member Julian Huppert – the force had lost nearly 1,000 officers in five years.

Chiefs are facing budget cuts of around £163.5million by 2016/17.

Federation branch chairman Nick Smart, said: “The police service is being eroded, neighbourhood policing is being eroded and our members are worried about the level of service they can provide to the public as a result of ongoing cuts.

“Something has to give. You do not get more or even the same with less. You only get less.”

Last month West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson criticised further cuts to the force budget, saying they were “deep and damaging and go too far”.

The police federation is running a two-month campaign on social media and through public events to highlight what it says are the consequences of cuts.

Mr Smart said police “wince” at what the future holds.

He added: “We have chosen to run this information and awareness campaign because we believe the public have a right to know what the £163 million cuts to the policing budget mean.

“That crime is not falling; it is changing. That cuts have consequences.

“We face the pressures of terrorism, child sexual exploitation, safeguarding and vulnerability issues, cybercrime as well as traditional crimes and duties officers have to perform.

“Officers are not fools and neither are the public. Political rhetoric about reducing bureaucracy, new IT, new powers have not reduced demand sufficiently, if at all.

“You still need boots on the ground if you want to fight crime and keep the public safe.”