THERE are fears that public safety is being put at risk by police budget cuts after it emerged that Bradford had lost more than 100 officers in the last five years.

And across West Yorkshire as a whole, the number of police officers has fallen by more than 1,000 in the same period - figures described as concerning by police representatives and an MP.

But West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, said his latest budget, approved last month, meant around 300 police officers could be recruited in the next 12 months as the Force started to "rebuild."

West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman, Nick Smart, said the thin blue line had become "anorexic," while Conservative MP Philip Davies said offenders were less likely to be brought to justice.

West Yorkshire Police, responding to a Freedom of Information request from the Telegraph & Argus, said the number of police officers employed by the force at October 31, 2015, was 4,674, compared with 5,717 at October 31, 2010. In Bradford, the figure fell from 975 in 2010 to 862 last year.

Civilian employees dropped from 4,543 to 3,890 in West Yorkshire, and from 499 to 371 in Bradford; while the number of PCSOs fell from 737 to 595 forcewide, and from 199 to 155 in Bradford.


But the number of fully qualified Special Constables rose, from 367 to 626 in West Yorkshire, and 71 to 113 in Bradford.

Shipley MP Mr Davies said the figures were not a surprise, but showed the stark realities of cutting the police budget, which he had voted against for five years.

He said: "The first duty of the Government should be to protect the public and the police are the front line of that. The inevitable consequence of cutting the police budget is that you are going to have fewer police officers.

"It is a massive concern. I am delighted the Chancellor has made it clear he is not going to cut the police budget further in this Parliament, but I'd rather he hadn't cut it in the last one.

"The consequence of having fewer police officers is that people feel less safe and there is less chance of offenders being brought to justice."

Mr Davies said more rural areas, like some within his constituency, were affected more because resources became more concentrated on town and city centres.

Loss of police officers in Bradford must be reversed

He added: "I have spent a lot of time out with the police and my view, before the cuts, was that they were stretched.

"The police, as they always do, have battled diligently to provide the best possible service with the resources they have got, but there is a limit to what they can do."

Meanwhile, Mr Smart said crime was significantly rising for the first time in years. He said 80 per cent of the police's daily work related to vulnerability and protective issues such as missing persons, child sexual exploitation, human trafficking, counter terrorism, cyber crime, and mental health., which were complex and time consuming.

He said: "Resources are stretched and the blue line is anorexically thin. No organisation can sustain over 20 per cent cuts and still deliver the same service. The knock on effect is that public safety is ultimately compromised.

"Officers are dedicated to keeping the public safe, but this becomes increasing difficult as officer numbers continue to fall and demand increases."

Mr Burns-Williamson said there had been a steep reduction in the number of police officers and staff within West Yorkshire – approximately 2,000 less - since 2010.

But he said a recruitment campaign for Special Constables had been a great success.

Last month his budget proposal, for a 3.6 per cent increase in police council tax, was approved, meaning the force could recruit around 300 police officers over the next 12 months.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: "We are starting to rebuild, whenever we can, to a sustainable level.

“Special Constables and PCSOs will continue to have the opportunity to become full-time police officers with ongoing internal recruitment, as well as opening up for wider recruitment among the general public for the first time in many years."

He said they were working with partners to make a real difference.

"We are working ever more closer to make sure this happens as we know our communities want to see more officers on the streets.”