The public needs to fight to support the police service, which is struggling to cope with years of budget cuts.
That is the view of West Yorkshire Police Federation Chairman Brian Booth, who was speaking about the latest police crime figures.
The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that total crime in West Yorkshire increased by 12% in the past year to 291,573 incidents. This at the same time as the number of officers in the force is 600 fewer than it was 10 years ago.
Brian said: “The public need to know that the police service cannot carry on with such poor funding and expect us to perform how society demands.
“In 2009 we had 5,854 officers in West Yorkshire; at the last official count in 2018 we had 5,014 officers. We are now recruiting to try and build on that number thanks to council tax payers in West Yorkshire who have supported their police with the Council Tax Precept rise. But even after all this we will still have 600 fewer officers than we did a decade ago.
“The public also need to know that police officers do far more than just investigate crime. They try and help our society to maintain cohesiveness. They protect the vulnerable and make them feel safe.”
Brian added: “They support those who suffer mental ill health in the public domain. Most importantly, they come to a call of help when others don’t.
“Nothing has changed in the mind of the frontline officer; the police fight to serve the public. We now need the public to fight for the police.
“The cuts have gone too far, for far too long. The real question has to be whether the public of West Yorkshire are proud to have some of the worst crime statistics in the country.
“I can tell you that your officers are not proud, but it is not their fault. Fault lies firmly at the feet of this Government.
“The other alternative is to have a proper review of policing and decide what the service should no longer will deal with.”
Government figures show that in West Yorkshire, violence against the person crimes increased by 32% in the year to December 2018 to 102,172 incidents.
Knife crime rose by 20% – far in excess of the national average for England and Wales of 6%. The 2,715 incidents involving a knife in West Yorkshire is 106% higher than in 2010/11.
Robberies also rose by 32%, while there was a 69% increase in the number of homicides.
Drug offences were up by 18% and sexual offences rose by 10% to more than 8,000.
However, the force did record small reductions in the number of thefts (3%), burglaries (3%) and criminal damage and arson offences (5%).
Brian added: “The ONS statistics show that the police service is still struggling with the lack of proper sustainable funding.
“We are one of the biggest forces outside London and as such have similar crime trends. We are still 600 officers short of where we were in 2009, yet crime has increased and also changed.
“Political interference means we chase the topical crimes leaving others in the wake.
“This week it is knife crime, previously it was acid attacks, moped crime, road deaths. The new emerging headline is fraud or civil disobedience to other agendas.”
Date posted: May 6, 2019