WEST Yorkshire Police chiefs have welcomed a positive inspection report on the force's efficiency and savings plans - but warned that future savings will be increasingly difficult to achieve.
The 'Valuing The Police' report, by the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), gives the Force a “good” rating on three key inspection areas around efficiency and savings plans.
Roger Baker, HM Inspector of Constabulary for the Northern Region, said West Yorkshire had faced one of the largest spending cuts of all forces.
But Mr Baker said: "The pace and scale of improvement in the force since last year has been impressive. It has introduced a new way of delivering policing and significantly improved its approach to managing change to tackle the challenges it faces.
"Despite major change, and significant reductions in staffing, the force has continued to provide effective policing; crime has continued to fall in West Yorkshire throughout this period at a greater rate than elsewhere and victims' satisfaction with the police is high."
West Yorkshire Chief Constable Dee Collins said: "I am really pleased that the report recognises the great progress we have made. I’m doubly pleased because at the same time as making those savings, we have also achieved significant crime reductions.
"The Programme of Change is fundamentally altering the way we do business and today’s report endorses that we are on the right track. Of course, it hasn’t always been easy and we understand that it has at times been difficult and unsettling for our own staff.
"The challenge remains significant and we still have a long way to go. Although we have realised huge savings, the further major savings needed are going to become increasingly difficult to find.
"I want to reassure people that we remain fully committed to sustaining our front line, those neighbourhood officers who serve and support our communities and work with partners at a local level and will provide the public with the best service that we can, given the resources at our disposal."
HMIC was particularly impressed with the level of detail, analysis and understanding of need in neighbourhood teams, which is enabling the force to make best use of its resources and serve local communities better.
West Yorkshire Police needs to save £104m during the four year spending review to March 2015 - but further savings will still be required after that.
The Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, said he was pleased with the assessment.
He said: “This report is testament to the hard work of WYP.
“I am pleased to see the emphasis on neighbourhood policing and protecting frontline policing has not diminished.
“Visible policing is crucial and, despite all the challenges faced by WYP, communities across West Yorkshire should be reassured that the number of police officers in local policing will be maintained for the next two years."