District’s police teams are safe

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HOME secretary Theresa May has said that the district’s neighbourhood police teams are safe from budget cuts – for now.

The cabinet minister visited West Yorkshire Police Operations Support Division at Carr Gate last Thursday.

She spoke to officers about how the four forces in Yorkshire work together to tackle serious and organised crime.

Mrs May also told the Express the NPTs would be protected as West Yorkshire Police battles to cut its budget by 20 per cent over the next four years, which could result in up to 1,500 job losses.

She said: “We’ve kept the neighbourhood police team funding, at a national level, as separate funding.

“Police authorities set their own budgets but in 2012 directly elected police and crime commissioners will set their own budget.

“In terms of PCSOs, up until 2012, we have kept that funding in place.”

Earlier this year Wakefield Council approved a funding package of almost £600,000 to help secure the future of PCSOs over the next two years.

Mrs May said she hoped councils would continue to help pay in the future.

She also met with Wakefield Coun Mark Burns-Williamson, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Authority.

He spoke to her about his concerns over the plans to bring in directly elected police and crime commissioners (PCCs) at an estimated cost of £60m.

Coun Burns-Williamson said: “I still think the introductions of PCCs next year is very risky.

“At a time when police forces are facing massive budget challenges it is something which I think the government should think again on.”

Earlier this month the Home Office announced plans for a new National Crime Agency to fight serious and organised crime.

Deputy chief constable of West Yorkshire Police David Crompton said: “West Yorkshire Police has had considerable success in tackling organised crime; last year we confiscated over £5m from criminal gangs.

“We are looking forward to working with the newly announced National Crime Agency.”