Crime Commissioner vows to protect Keighley bobbies on the beat from latest cuts (From Keighley News)
Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting KNEWS to 80360, or email
Crime Commissioner vows to protect Keighley bobbies on the beat from latest cuts
Top brass have categorically denied radical new cost-cutting measures announced this week will have any impact on front-line policing in Keighley.
The pledge was issued amid growing fears far-reaching proposals unveiled by senior officers could deliver a body blow to police cover in the town.
Speaking exclusively to the Keighley News, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, moved to quell rising levels of anxiety surrounding the revelations.
“I am committed to ensuring people in the Airedale and North Bradford areas – including Keighley – are safer and feel safer,” he said. “I have promised to protect front-line policing, and with the support of partners, will be maintaining the level of police community support officers (PCSOs) and police at the local level.”
Mr Burns-Williamson spoke out after it was revealed a review is already under way examining a cash-saving merger of the Airedale and North Bradford division, which includes Keighley, and city-based Bradford South.
As part of the these measures, it has also been confirmed Keighley’s police cells will shut from Monday, raising concerns Airedale could come off second best from the changes.
Some townspeople fear the move will be a disaster for Keighley, which over the years has seen the closure of its criminal and county courts and the relocation of the police station from the town centre.
Lord Mayor of Bradford, and Keighley councillor, Khadim Hussain, said he was “extremely concerned” and would fight any erosion of services.
He added: “I want to get an explanation of why they have decided to close the cells. It will be counter productive. I’m demanding a meeting with the police and crime commissioner.”
And solicitor Keith Blackwell, based at Blackwells in Keighley, fears the closure of the cells will harm the town. Legal representatives and families of suspects will now have to travel to Trafalgar House in Bradford city centre.
He added: “It seems to me the police are losing their direction. I know they are having their budget squeezed, but there must be other ways of saving money.”
Shipley MP Philip Davies, whose constituency is covered by Airedale and North Bradford Police, said the merger idea was a “worrying development”.
“I have made the Chief Constable aware of my concerns,” he said.
“The worry is the policing focus will be on the centre of Bradford, and the outskirts of the district will be short-changed.”
And villagers in outlying areas are also concerned about the possible impact.
Adrian Naylor, an Independent Craven ward district councillor and member of Silsden Town Council, said: “The reason places like Silsden and Steeton are quiet in terms of crime is the fact people see a visible police presence on the street.”
Coun Naylor added: “Through PACT meetings can task PCSOs to deal with low-level issues. I don’t want to see that lost through control moving to Bradford.”
Fellow ward councillor, Andrew Mallinson, said police assurances were needed that rural services would be unaffected. “The fear is crime will be pushed further into rural areas, where criminals feel their activities are less likely to be detected,” he added.
But Keighley MP Kris Hopkins defended the proposals, saying: “Effective policing is what the public rightly demands.
“Where divisional commanders are based is of much less importance than having more officers on the ground. If a new command structure leads to better policing and more bobbies on the beat, then I am comfortable with that.”
Mr Burns-Williamson said the government was cutting about £140 million over six years from the budget so savings had to be made.
But he vowed full consultation will take place before any decisions are reached.
He said: “Consultation with all partners and stakeholders – including our own staff and officers – will be undertaken before anything is finalised, to make sure we get it right for people locally and elsewhere.”
West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable, Mark Gilmore, said: “We are confident the reduction in divisions and removal of police ‘boundaries’ will make us more effective, not less.”
And Chief Superintendent Angela Williams, divisional commander of Airedale and North Bradford Division, said: “This will not affect front-line policing in the division0n at all, and the helpdesk opening hours at Keighley police station will remain unchanged.”
Comments are closed on this article.