West Yorkshire Police must cut another £33.8 million from its budget next year due to Government funding cuts.
The announcement came just days before West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson revealed a new £1.5 million team of 30 investigators appointed to focus on safeguarding and child sexual exploitation cases.
After undertaking specialist training, the team will join dedicated district policing teams boosting capacity to deal with complex and challenging historical investigations.
Mr Burns-Williamson said: “I want victims and witnesses, in particular those who are most vulnerable, to always come first and any young person who has been a victim or a witness of this sexual exploitation should have the confidence to come forward, trust that their voice will be heard and be justified in believing that the responsible authorities will make sure they and others are supported and kept safe.”
The latest cuts to West Yorkshire Policing, which are on top of £103 million already made in the last three years, will not effect the funding for the CSE team as it has been sourced from this year’s budget. But they show a failure by Government to recognise the reality of policing on the streets, according to the crime tsar for the region.
Mr Burns-Williamson said he would try to protect jobs but conceded that difficult decisions will have to be made given the severity of the latest cuts.
“These continued and relentless cuts are deep and damaging and go too far,” he said. “This money needs to go towards frontline policing to help people feel safe, not Government grants to other organisations. West Yorkshire relies much more heavily on Government grants, which pays for around 80 per cent of our spending. We are therefore hit much harder by the cuts than other areas.”
Government funding to all police forces will be cut by £299 million to £8.19 billion in 2015/16, Mike Penning, the Policing Minister, said in a written statement.
The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners warned that maintaining a strong front line presence will be “much more challenging”, while Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association Chief Police Officers, said a small number of police forces were already close to experiencing financial difficulty.
However, the Policing Minister, Mr Penning, said: “Police reform is working and crime has fallen by more than a fifth under this Government, according to the independent Crime Survey for England and Wales.”