Keighley’s top police officer has spoken out to allay fears the town’s police presence is under threat.
Closure of the cells at Keighley Police headquarters last year and the shifting of CID officers to Bradford have sparked concerns the town is being stripped of frontline services.
But in a revealing interview, Chief Superintendent Simon Atkin – head of policing across the Bradford district, including Keighley – pledged the community is not being abandoned.
He accepted shutting Keighley’s custody suite does add to travelling times for officers, who now have take prisoners to cells at Trafalgar House in Bradford.
But he claims this had been counterbalanced with moves to speed-up the handover of suspects.
And he added the uniformed presence on Keighley’s streets remains undiminished, with response times to incidents actually improving.
“We are reviewing all different ways of working to try to ensure we are as effective as possible,” he said.
“It is a challenge because we are trying to make savings at the same time as keeping a high number of officers operating and visible in Keighley.
“All our 24/7 response officers, who were being deployed from Shipley, are now operating from Keighley.
“Following this, we have seen a four per cent improvement in response times, and for priority calls, this has improved by more than ten per cent.”
“We have also reviewed the CID, and this has led to a number of officers previously in plain clothes being pulled back into uniform and tackling crime, such as burglary.”
He said CID was now split into two main teams. One deals with serious crime investigations – such as rape – and works from Eccleshill, while the safer neighbourhoods investigation team handles crimes such as robbery and burglary, and is based at Trafalgar House.
“This gives us the flexibility to make sure that when a number of investigations require detectives at the same time, we have the capability and capacity to ensure a high-quality response,” added Chief Supt Atkin.
“For example, it has given us the ability to create a small burglary conspiracy team, which is managing investigations primarily centred around the theft of high-value vehicles.”
He revealed that between October and December last year, arrests by Keighley officers of burglary suspects rocketed by 45 per cent compared to the previous three months, and arrests in general rose by 4.2 per cent.