THE impact of budget cuts on South Yorkshire’s police service was on the agenda at a public meeting to discuss the force’s priorities for the next year.
South Yorkshire Police must save more than £40 million over the next four years, and the event last night at Sheffield Hallam University’s Hubs building, on Paternoster Row, gave city residents the chance to put forward their views on where the force should focus its cost-cutting measures.
Temporary Chief Constable Bob Dyson told the meeting the force will have to ‘do things differently’ in future in order to make the savings.
“The world is a changing place for the police service, as it is for other public sectors,” he said.
“We’ve got to change the way we police.”
The event was also attended by Charles Perryman, chair of South Yorkshire Police Authority.
Chf Con Dyson said South Yorkshire Police’s current priorities include reducing anti-social behaviour, road traffic casualties and criminal damage.
He said the force also wants to see a five per cent reduction in gun crime this year.
“This is the sort of policing that you don’t see - tackling gangs that might exist, dealing with drugs on a major level.
“It’s an invisible aspect of policing, and it has to be.”
Chf Con Dyson also said South Yorkshire Police has found the cuts tough as 80 per cent of its funding comes from the Government, with the rest of its budget provided by council taxes.
Measures already taken to meet the smaller budget have included a recruitment freeze, a severance scheme for staff members and the closure of some enquiry desks.
One resident raised the concern that neighbourhood watch groups will work alongside the police less frequently, while another said he was worried that new 20mph zones introduced in some suburban areas will not be enforced because of cutbacks.
Chf Con Dyson said: “There’s a smaller level of resources that we can put to speed limits. Speed cameras are the most effective way of targeting speed, but if you speed in a 20mph zone it will be an endorsable offence.”
Meetings have already taken place in Barnsley and Rotherham. Issues raised at the events will be put forward for inclusion in the authority’s policing plan for the next year.