Rural Yorkshire ‘at risk’ from police cuts

SPENDING cuts to the police service in North Yorkshire will have “ominous” consequences for rural communities, the Police Federation has warned.

In an open letter to the public, the Federation claims that another 150 police officers could be lost by 2020 as the Force looks to make another £20m worth of savings.

The letter says that rural communities will bear the brunt of cuts as stations close and more areas are left without a police presence.

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The Federation claimed the number of frontline North Yorkshire officers has fallen from 1,650 in 2007 to 1,400 today - a figure disputed by the Force.

“In 2007, there were 2.1 police officers for every 1,000 residents - today there are just 1.5 officers for every 1,000 residents,” said a Federation spokesman.

Mike Stubbs, North Yorkshire Police Federation chairman, said: “In North Yorkshire, police officers are an integral part of the community not only through their work but because many live in the communities they police.

“What happens in those communities is not just about their job – it is about their homes, their partners, their children, their families and their friends and neighbours. That is why they are gravely concerned about what is being done to policing.”

“We live in one of the safest places in England and Wales but there is no room for complacency.

“There will always be criminal elements within society who will take advantage of any opportunities that arise.

“Increased security measures may have helped to reduce traditional crimes such as car theft and house burglary but criminals are extremely innovative, and we must have a police service that is resourced to meet new challenges as criminals find fresh ways of committing crime.”

He said dealing with crime formed only a small proportion of the job.

And he said basing funding decisions on falls in recorded crime took no account of that fact.

“Basing funding decisions on a fall in recorded crime takes no account of everything else we are expected to do – the all too frequent road collisions that lead to death or serious injury, safeguarding children and other vulnerable people, searching for missing people, responding to calls for concern, many of which involve people with mental welfare issues.”

A spokesperson from North Yorkshire Police disputed the figures and said community safety was not being put at risk.

“North Yorkshire Police Federation’s open letter implies that community safety is being jeopardized and that simply is not true.

“The hard reality is that all public services – including the police – are having to adapt to changing demands with reduced levels of funding.

“Simply insisting that everything remains the same as it was nearly a decade ago is unrealistic, and undermines public confidence in the police without any factual basis.

“The North Yorkshire Police Federation has said that there were 1,650 officers in 2007 compared with 1400 today.

“In fact North Yorkshire Police currently has a workforce of around 1,900 people working in frontline policing jobs – the result of a very deliberate effort to strengthen the focus on frontline policing in the community.

“This also reflects the fact that when the Police and Crime Commissioner came into post in 2012, she and the Chief Constable agreed to reverse a decision to cut officer numbers.

“However, simply having more “boots on the street” does not equate to having a better police service.

“Modern policing requires a more sophisticated response, and whilst we will always have neighbourhood officers working in the community, the way in which we deploy them needs to be driven by intelligence and sound policing practice.

“As a police service, we are working extremely hard to make sure we deploy our resources, including our officers, in the best way we can to protect and serve the whole community. That means embracing new ways of delivering policing.

“We are doing this through our Operational Policing Model, our investment in new intelligence and technology systems, and our partnerships with other organisations.

“Whilst no-one would disagree that the financial situation is a challenge, the reality is that North Yorkshire remains one of the safest counties in England, we have been rated as “outstanding” for our financial planning in our last Peel HMIC inspection, public confidence in the police is consistently more than 80 percent, and we continue to have a highly committed workforce.

“Nonetheless, we agree with the North Yorkshire Police Federation that there is a need for an honest, rational conversation with the public about policing. That is why we are holding a series of public roadshows in June, where we hope we can have a constructive debate about real issues, not empty numbers.”