Crime concerns as cuts hit police

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NUMBERS of front-line police officers are being reduced at Whitby Police Station in a bid to deal with government funding cuts.

Two sergeants will be lost as well as three police officers when new shift patterns are introduced next month to coincide with the staffing changes.

Two of the current sergeants are going to be re-deployed to Ryedale and Scarborough and three retiring police officers won’t be replaced.

It means there will be 22 instead of the current 25 police officers but the number of police community support officers (PCSOs) will remain at six.

While North Yorkshire Police maintains the service to the public will remain high there are concerns within the town about the effects the changes will have on public safety.

These have been exacerbated by two murders in town within the past year, an unexplained death when a body was found in a derelict property in January and a sex assault which occurred just last weekend.

Coun Jane Kenyon, of the Police Authority, said: “The one thing the Police Authority handed over to the Police and Crime Commissioner was a very sound balance sheet with a medium term financial plan which protected front line officers and made necessary savings from the back office not front line officers out there doing the job.

“You can’t sack a police officer but if they are retiring you could choose not to replace them and call it natural wastage but not at that rate and given the sort of issues that have faced Whitby in the last 12 months. We are not a sleepy backwater, there are all these things to think about. It is going backwards not forwards.”

North Yorkshire Police say specialist resources such as Roads Policing, Dog Section and Neighbourhood Support Teams, can be drafted in from other parts of the force as and when required.

Whitby’s former inspector, Assistant Chief Constable Iain Spittal said: “I know first hand the challenges and demands of policing the area. I also know how passionate local people are about protecting their quality of life. I share this passion and I for one would not sanction anything that would put this at risk.

“I can assure residents that the new shift system will mitigate the reduction of five officers serving directly from Whitby.”

Superintendent Glyn Payne, the Scarborough and Ryedale Safer Neighbourhood Commander, added the decision had been taken after much consideration as to how to police Whitby within the budget they have.