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“Good” West Yorkshire praised by HMIC inspectors

HMIC 001West Yorkshire Police has made impressive progress in developing and carrying out “a programme of change” that is enabling it to provide good value for money, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary has said.

The force has had to save £103.9 million over the past four years – between March 2011 and March 2015 – and according to HMIC is on course to meet this challenge. Police officer numbers in the force are down 18 per cent over this period.

In an HMIC report Policing in Austerity – Meeting the Challenge – the HMIC has examined how forces across England and Wales have responded to the impact of £2.5bn of austerity cuts.

The report states West Yorkshire Police “has faced one of the largest cuts to its spending of all forces in England and Wales. After a faltering start in the early years of this spending review period, it has made rapid progress this year.

“It is now on track to meet its financial challenges over the spending review period and beyond, to 2016. Importantly, the force has started to develop its outline plans for achieving savings beyond 2016 and has sufficient reserves to enable change, achieve the ambitions of the police and crime commissioner (PCC) and support transformation and innovation.

“The pace and scale of improvement in the force since last year has been impressive. It has introduced a new way of providing policing and significantly improved its approach to managing change to tackle the challenges it faces.

“Despite major change and significant reductions in staffing, the force has continued to provide effective policing; crime has continued to fall in West Yorkshire throughout this period at a greater rate than elsewhere and victims’ satisfaction with the police is high.

“The challenge now is to fully implement the changes.”

HMIC inspectors rate the force as “good” when it comes to “securing the financial position for the short and long term”, having an “affordable way of providing policing”, “being efficient” and “providing value for money.”

According to the HMIC, the number of officers, PCSOs and staff (i.e. of the force’s total workforce) working on West Yorkshire’s front line is projected to reduce by 1,335 between March 2010 and March 2015 (from 7,552 to 6,217).

In terms of savings plans for 2014/15, HMIC states “HMIC found that the force has well-developed and realistic savings plans to balance the budget for the final year of the spending review, 2014/15. In the last two years, the force has achieved more savings than it planned, making savings of £20.8m in 2013/14. This was achieved through reduced officer and staff numbers against budget, by holding open vacancies.”

Looking to the future, it adds: “Looking to 2016/17 and 2017/18, planned savings are expected of £26.5m and £24.8m, leaving a gap of around £8m still to be found in each of these two years. Although the force is showing a funding gap, it has developed a range of options which, once properly scoped and assessed, are likely to close this gap.”

Across the country, HMIC has raised “serious concerns” over the erosion of neighbourhood policing and the viability of some police forces in England and Wales.

It states a similar round of spending cuts repeated in the future would put some smaller police forces – 18 in total – in jeopardy within the next three to five years.

You can see the full West Yorkshire Police report here

Date posted: July 31, 2014

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