Yorkshire police officers forced to cancel rest days as force struggles under pressure

West Yorkshire Police Federation Chairman Brian Booth
West Yorkshire Police Federation Chairman Brian Booth

A number of West Yorkshire Police officers have been forced to cancel their rest days as the force struggles against a continued rising demand.

Some officers have also been moved temporarily to the force's contact department to assist with the answering of 999 and 111 calls due to an increase over the summer period.

West Yorkshire Police said the move will enable staff to resolve more enquiries at the first point of contact and will ensure officers are only deployed to incidents which require their attendance.

The information has come to light after the Courier's sister newspaper The Yorkshire Post was contacted by a man who expressed his concerns at the current state of policing.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous due to fear of reprisals, said: "At a time when frontline policing is stretched and the streets are out of control, West Yorkshire Police has warned officers that they will be cancelling their summer rest days to answer phones in contact."

The man claims the decision to cancel rest days has come from the force's demand management review, which he said the force "pushed ahead with despite strong opposition from the staff".

The man said: "Staff repeatedly warned that closing down district control rooms to two centralised locations would leave shortfalls in staffing levels. However staff were routinely ignored and those that spoke up were threatened and bullied with dismissal.

"There is now a huge crisis in contact which is putting the public at risk hence why I feel the need to speak out. Officers been taken off the front line and having rest days cancelled due to poor planning. The force were warned and they didn't listen. Violent crime is out of control and they are taking officers off the streets."

West Yorkshire Police confirmed a number of officers with previous call handling experience have been temporarily moved to its contact department to help with demand.

The force refuted the claims that staff had been "routinely ignored" and said staff had engaged throughout with a formal consultation taking place.

West Yorkshire Police, Assistant Chief Constable Tim Kingsman said: “A small number of officers with previous experience of call handling have been temporarily seconded to our Contact department to assist with peak demand, while our ongoing recruitment campaign aims to fill current vacancies.

“Some of those officers have been asked to work a rest day to help maintain cover at our most challenging times, however, there has been no wholesale cancellation.

“As the national Police Frontline Review has highlighted, we are operating in the context of ever increasing demand, particularly over the summer months and warmer weather.

“The force continually analyses this demand and has previously undertaken a review aimed at delivering greater resilience, aside a backdrop of diminishing resources and austerity.

“It is important to note that there were no forced or voluntary redundancies during the review or its implementation. Both staff and staff associations were also engaged throughout and formal consultation was held.

“This work led to our district based control rooms being united within a single governance model, split over two locations, providing more flexibility and additional levels of support.

“Since the structure was put in place, the need to draft in front line officers to manage calls, for instance, has been minimised to a greater degree.

“By having the right numbers of staff in the contact centre, we can resolve more enquiries at the first point of contact, ensuring that officers are only deployed to the incidents which require their attendance.”

West Yorkshire Police Federation Chairman Brian Booth confirmed the force is in a "dire situation" as it battles to meet demands with reduced resources.

Mr Booth, who represents ranked officers, said: "Call management has been hit like every other department, demand has increased and there is no flexibility left anywhere. So as previously quoted, this is “Robbing Peter to pay Paul” and the harsh reality of modern policing.

"Officers are being moved to deal with the huge demand in calls, whilst police leaders try and maintain a frontline response. Officers are having their shifts changed and rest days cancelled to meet everyday demand.

"This is having a clear effect on our members and this will eventually wear our officers out, resulting in increased fatigue / sickness within the service.

"I’m hoping the next Prime Minister will come to the aid of policing and deliver on promises of sustainable long term funding."