Police still diving to save money?

Police Diver
Photo: http://www.thestar.co.uk

In March 2012 it was announced that the number of police divers across Yorkshire could be halved, as a result of police chiefs talking about a region-wide merger of underwater search units. But what are the realities of the proposal?

These plans, were born out of government enforced austerity measures, and a subsequent money-saving report by the region’s chief constables (see here).

The proposal was subsequently condemned by the Police Federation (see here) shortly after publication.

It’s the thin edge of the wedge really. It’s the erosion all the time – policing matters, officers and now there is no dedicated presence in West Yorkshire…(Andrew Tempest-Mitchell, West Yorkshire Police Federation)

Those original ideas have now been implemented and, despite any previous concerns, the new unit which is based in Humberside, will be covering all of Yorkshire and Humberside.

Police chiefs have claimed the move would save “more than £400,000 a year” with a much smaller team of 10 full-time officers working in a “shared unit at a cost of £719,083” but, irrespective of those financial figures, and the additional loss of skills and resources, the final and most important issue (as ever) is; what is the real impact upon service delivery to the people who reside in Yorkshire and Humberside?

For some time I’ve looked upon these so-called collaborative working practices favourably. I suggested back in 2010 that the sharing of many policing functions actually makes financial sense (see here) however; it would also make sense for the service to take things a step further and, we still don’t appear to be realising many of the projected savings?

So many of the current police ‘reforms’ still don’t go far enough. They are supposed to be about bolstering operational front-line policing, whilst minimising the administrative machine in the ‘back-office’ functions however; the thin blue line of officers able to respond to public need is still in decline.

The government and many senior officers are still paying lip-service to the problems of reducing police expenditure. But as Peter Walker, a past DCC of North Yorkshire Police put it earlier this year; It’s not the Government – It’s local choices that are taking away the Police Officers.

The Policing Yorkshire & The Humber initiative (regionalisation by another name) suggests that; four Police Forces and Police Authorities of Yorkshire and the Humber will work together to build capacity and capability in specialist and strategic areas of policing, adding value and improving confidence for the overall benefit of the region.

Like many other tax payers, I’m still waiting to see it happen!

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