The policeman’s ‘union’ is in consultation with the West Yorkshire force about proposals which could slash the number of senior detectives working on major crimes.

Chief Constable Mark Gilmore and West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson are spearheading the Programme of Change, which aims to transform policing and improve performance while saving £154 million.

Plans include merging the Homicide and Major Enquiry Team (HMET), the force’s nationally- renowned crimebusting squad, with Crime Division, which concentrates on major drug smuggling cases, to form a larger department, the Protective Services Crime Division.

Proposals to include firearms, dogs and horse teams in the merger are also being discussed.

Detective Chief Superintendent David Knopwood, of the new unit, has admitted there will be a reduction in the number of resources, but insists efficiency improvements would compensate and said there would be greater co-ordination across the force to tackle all levels of crime. But some detectives are concerned about the impact the changes would have on murder investigations.

One senior West Yorkshire officer said the number of criminal investigation teams had halved in three years.

“HMET used to be the Marks & Spencer of the criminal investigation world, now it’s the equivalent of a pound shop in terms of the service the public is getting,” the officer said.

“Murders are not getting the same attention they used to because there aren’t enough resources.”

Nick Smart, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said Programme of Change meetings were looking at various reviews including a merger of the two crime divisions.

He said: “If the numbers of senior investigating officers, DCIs and DIs were going to be reduced dramatically we would be concerned, but the numbers aren’t definitive yet.

“The Federation is being consulted and we will make representations to the divisional heads and the command team.”