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Open letter sent from West Yorkshire Police Federation

Open letter sent from West Yorkshire Police Federation to all the area’s 22 MPs ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review

So far, two endorsements from MPs Greg Mulholland and Philip Davies.

Federation LogoI write you as Chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation on behalf of over 4,500 serving West Yorkshire police officers.

As you may be aware, part of the new core purpose of the Police Federation is to act in the public interest. Ahead of this week’s Comprehensive Spending Review, we feel we must raise our deep concern about the proposed cuts to police budgets and the impact this will have on keeping the public of our county safe.

The Home Office have a complete lack of understanding of what impact the cuts will have on the service.

This lack of understanding has been criticised by the cross party Public Accounts Select Committee.

Initial figures of 25- 40% cuts would cause some forces to fail as it will weaken our ability to keep the public safe. Cuts to budgets simply mean fewer officers.

And all you get with less is less.

This budget review will fundamentally alter how we deliver the service in the future. We police by consent and with the public. Unlike many other policing models across Europe and further afield, we engage with our citizens from all backgrounds.

Neighbourhood policing is key to successful community relations, and it will be severely diminished. We engage and adapt our services to meet community needs by seeking to reduce tensions and the risk of alienation. The Neighbourhood Policing model is essential in keeping the public safe through good community dialogue.

It goes without saying that now is not the time to scale back in this area. It is the bedrock of British policing.

If we reduce neighbourhood policing we risk disengagement with communities and risk losing that vital two way dialogue with the public. Our greatest work is that we are pro-active and stop crime and terrorist plots through community engagement and intelligence gathering.

As a police service we aim to prevent rather than react to situations.

Cuts will mean that we have to move from a pro-active engagement style of policing, to a more reactive service in order to meet the demand with so many less officers. The public will get an emergency service delivering simply an emergency service.

The recent situation in Paris has highlighted a number of issues pertinent to the way we police in Britain. It has reinforced the need to keep our neighbourhood engagement style of policing.

It has also highlighted the need to have a properly equipped and trained service to meet the demands of policing. The service needs investment in training more firearms officers, and giving them the equipment to deal with military grade threats.

Many senior politicians across all parties – even the Mayor of London – are calling on the Government not to cut the police service at this time and are seeing the value and the need to retain the current model of policing to keep the citizens of this country safe.

Further cuts will start the process of moving away from a law engagement model to a more law enforcement model, where policing is simply “done” to the community rather than in conjunction with communities.

This will mean going back 30 plus years and policing the demand and complexity of 2015 with 1980’s capacity and capability.

Whatever happens, police officer at all levels will face the challenge and try to make it work. It’s what we do. We want to help and protect the vulnerable and bring to justice those who would do harm.

But cuts do have consequences.

Now is not the time to play fast and loose with public safety. Now the time is to invest in the police service, keep that pro-active focus, allow us to engage with the public we protect and serve.

I ask you to support and endorse this open letter.

Kind Regards,
Nick Smart

Date posted: November 24, 2015

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