Massive new South Yorkshire Police job cuts ‘will risk lives’

PCSOs on patrol in Gleadless. Picture: Andrew Roe
PCSOs on patrol in Gleadless. Picture: Andrew Roe

Lives will be put at risk by plans to cut a further 1,500 jobs from South Yorkshire Police in the next five years, a police union has claimed.

A leaked report has revealed 500 officers, 1,000 support staff and 150 Police Community Support Officer positions could go at the force by 2020 as a further £59m of cuts are demanded.

The new savings come on top of £53m cuts since 2010 which have already seen 1,000 jobs lost.

Unison’s South Yorkshire Police Branch Secretary Ian Armitage said he was concerned the already stretched-force would struggle to cope with further job losses.

He said: “These Government cuts will have a devastating effect on standards of policing and will inevitably put the public at grave risk.

“The people of South Yorkshire pay for their police service yet it is being systematically eroded and will leave a level of service that will not be fit for purpose.

“This is a crisis and I don’t think people are yet aware of how it will damage the safety and well-being of their communities.

“If they knew just how few people there are, at times, on duty in the control room, incident response groups and other vital back-up support they would be horrified.”

Mr Armitage said there are already examples of people having to wait for days for officers to attend non-emergency incidents, including assaults and non-domestic burglaries.

Mr Armitage added: “We are seeking to harness the support of everyone in South Yorkshire to help us fight for a future for their police service.

“There is no question of us crying wolf, as the Home Secretary has claimed in the past.

“This is a real crisis and the people who will suffer are the ordinary people of South Yorkshire.”

A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said: “The budgetary constraints have led to fewer staff, both officers and support staff, and that means we are having to change the way we work, to redefine our approach in light of the challenges we face.

“Officers and staff have been affected by a number of changes, for example cuts to the force budget and the voluntary redundancy process for staff, but as a force we are working hard to try to minimise the impact of these changes.

“Change will always make people uncomfortable but as ever, we have officers and staff across the force working to their absolute maximum and they continue to provide a high level of service to the communities we serve.”

Earlier this month, it was revealed that South Yorkshire Police officers are having to answer 999 calls due to staff cuts. Officers are covering the vacancies as a result of some call handlers taking voluntary redundancy.