Specialist police units in West Yorkshire have been slashed in order to get much-needed officers on the beat.
Significant reductions are being made in officers in the roads policing unit, the mounted and dogs sections, and the public order unit, with officers being redeployed to response and neighbourhood policing teams. No jobs are being lost but the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, says it will mean more work for those left in the units. The federation’s West Yorkshire chairman Nick Smart said: “We will be monitoring closely to make sure that the level of service to the public is not diminished.”
The revamp is part of West Yorkshire Police’s Programme of Change initiative, as the force faces having to find £143 million of budget savings by 2017, while maintaining the levels of frontline policing.
The four specialist departments, which are principally based at West Yorkshire Police’s headquarters in Wakefield, form part of the force’s Protective Services Operations.
Chief Superintendent Barry South said: “Protective Services Operations, like all areas of the organisation, are being reviewed to ensure we provide the best possible service to communities.
“As a result, some resources are being moved. No officers have lost their jobs, but some are to be moved into frontline roles with local neighbourhood teams.
“This ensures we maintain our commitment to front line services, but in no way reduces the specialist policing capability provided by West Yorkshire Police.”
Mr Smart said there had been a selection process with officers in the four units having to re-apply for their jobs and be re-interviewed because of reductions being made to the departments.
Unsuccessful officers were being sent back to district response and neighbourhood policing teams.
He said: “It is fair to say these are significant reductions to the previous levels of staffing in the units.
“We understand the reasons for the restructuring, given the difficult financial decisions the force is having to make. It remains to be seen whether we can do more for less. We will be monitoring this to make sure these units still provide the gold standard service.”