Lib Dems accused of U-turn on police numbers pledge

LABOUR leaders have joined forces to petition Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg after accusing the Liberal Democrats of reneging on a pre-election pledge to boost police numbers on Yorkshire's streets.

All 17 Labour group leaders in the region have signed an open letter to Sheffield Hallam MP Mr Clegg to outline their disgust over the issue.

The Lib Dems' General Election manifesto contained a pledge to increase police numbers in Yorkshire by 200. However, the coalition Government's multi-billion pound cuts are due to see a reduction in police funding across England and Wales of nine per cent.

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The letter was instigated by the leader of York Council's Labour group, Coun James Alexander, who claimed the funding cutbacks will see at least 200 police officers being lost in North Yorkshire alone. Coun Alexander added: "We have just seen the Liberal Democrats renege on their pre-election tuition fees pledge and now they are reneging on their pre-election police pledge.

"The Liberal Democrats have always been soft on crime, but by supporting reductions in police numbers they are letting current victims of crime down as much as they are future victims from consequential increases in crime."

North Yorkshire Police Authority agreed earlier this month to let Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell forcibly retire officers with more than 30 years' service – which could see his force shrink to its smallest ever size.

Funding cuts have left North Yorkshire Police needing to shed up to 200 officers and the approved measure will save the force more than 11m over four years.

South Yorkshire Police's redundancy appeals procedure will, however, remain unchanged after its governing authority shelved plans to revise it. The force faces having to make up to 600 redundancies because of budget cuts.

No one was available for comment from the Home Office.