Elmet and Rothwell Parliamentary candidate concerned over police force cuts

Police. Picture: Richard Ponter (134127a)
Police. Picture: Richard Ponter (134127a)

The Labour Parliamentary candidate for Wetherby’s constituency has raised concerns about cuts to police numbers.

According to West Yorkshire Police Federation figures, 947 officer posts have been cut from the West Yorkshire force since 2010 - that is one in five bobbies on the beat gone.

The force stands to lose £163m in government funding cuts to policing, and fears are that many more police officer jobs will be axed.

According to Labour’s prospective Parliamentary candidate for Elmet and Rothwell Veronica King, only 82 posts were cut in North Yorkshire.

Mrs King said: “Residents will rightly be concerned we are losing so many officers from our area with Tory-imposed police cuts hitting us ten times harder here just a few miles away from North Yorkshire. People in Wetherby have exactly the same right as people in Harrogate to feel safe in their communities.

“The first duty of any government is the safety and security of its citizens. Alec Shelbrooke’s Conservative party is failing that duty. We will not. With our zero-based review, Labour has already identified there are savings to be made to protect front-line officers, starting with saving 1,100 under threat in 2015/2016.”

Parliamentary meetings were held this week as part of the West Yorkshire Police Federation #CutsHaveConsequences awareness campaign.

Chairman Nick Smart said: “The police service is being eroded. And our members are worried about the level of service they can provide 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. For the public of West Yorkshire this means a poorer service with fewer front line police officers. We can only provide you with the service you are entitled to if we are funded correctly.

“We believe the public has 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.

“Officers are not fools and neither is the public. You still need boots on the ground if you want to fight crime and keep the public safe.”

Temporary Chief Constable Dee Collins added that the force still needs to find £37m of the £160m savings needed between 2010 and 2017.

She said: “We are facing the most significant financial challenge in our history and as a consequence have to make incredibly difficult decisions, but I want to assure people that protecting the public remains our number one priority and our focus.”

Current MP Alec Shelbrooke hit back at Mrs King’s assertions. He said: “It is no surprise that Ed Miliband’s candidates are once again taking residents for fools.

“People will know that West Yorkshire has a Labour Police and Crime Commissioner, so this is a bit of a childish own goal for Labour.

“That said, I’ve been working with Wetherby’s Neighbourhood Policing Team for over a decade now, they do a great job locally and it saddens me to see outsiders attacking their efforts to cut crime.”