A LOCAL MP has hit out at the “chilling” impact cuts to policing are having on public safety, as new figures reveal charge rates for key crimes have fallen across West Yorkshire.

According to the latest data, the proportion of arrests for sexual offences leading to a charge or summons in West Yorkshire is 4.9 per cent - among the lowest in the country.

The figures, produced by the House of Commons Library, show that in West Yorkshire in 2017/18 the charge rate for criminal damage and arson is 5.7 per cent, 6.2 per cent for theft offences and 9.7 per cent for violence against the person as well as public order offences.

The statistics also show a significant fall in the charge rate across key crimes since 2015 in West Yorkshire, including: a fall of 62.3 per cent for sexual offences, a 52.6 per cent drop for public order offences, and a 40.2 per cent fall for violence against the person.

Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin, who highlighted the impact of police cuts with the Government Policing Minister last week in the House of Commons, described the figures as “shocking”, saying it was more “chilling evidence” that cuts to West Yorkshire Police Force are putting public safety at risk.

She said: “We have lost hundreds of frontline officers across West Yorkshire and our communities are undoubtedly suffering as a result of these cuts.

“The police are working incredibly hard to tackle crime against a backdrop of austerity but we desperately need more police officers to keep us safe.”

However West Yorkshire Police said there had been a "significant increase in recorded crime" as a result of improvements in crime recording practices as well as an increased confidence by the public to report crimes in the first place.

Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams said: "From 2017 to 2018, the Force recorded 12,000 more public order offences – a 114% increase. We also recorded 32,000 more offences of violence against the person (64% increase) and 2,670 more sexual offences – an increase of 49%."

She added that the number of offences resulting in a charge remained at a consistent level, but the rate had dropped due to increases in the number of recorded crimes.

“We also saw as an increase in the number of charges and summons in 2017 to 2018, compared to 2015 to 2016.

“We are certainly not complacent and within the force we are looking at how to improve charge rates and the quality of investigations, including enhanced training for investigators and an ongoing programme to recruit more ‘direct entry’ detectives."

She added that it was also important to note that just because no-one had been charged with an offence did not mean that the person responsible has not been identified. It could be that a community resolution of caution was sued, or a prosecution not possible due to the suspect being, for example, under the age of criminal responsibility or deceased.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “This Government recognises the impact that crime can have on its victims and we want offenders charged and brought to justice.

“We are working closely with the police to look at how they can better respond to reported crimes.

“We have also announced the biggest increase in police funding since 2010, and West Yorkshire Police will receive a cash increase of £28.5m in 2019-20 if the Police and Crime Commissioner uses their full council tax flexibility. We expect to see progress in investigations as a result.”