A senior West Yorkshire police officer has spoken of the increased demand placed on the force after it was described as the ‘new crime capital of England and Wales’.
The West Yorkshire police force area has the highest rating in the country on the Crime Severity Score devised by the Office for National Statistics, where the type of crime is taken into account as well as the volume of offences.
Its score of 13.6 was higher than the Metropolitan Police’s score of 13.2 and 13.4 for Greater Manchester Police.
Separately, in the ONS’s quarterly report on recorded crime published last year, the force’s total of 92.3 offences per 1,000 population in the year to June was the highest in the country.
This came after a 24 per cent rise in crime, though the force says this is largely due to a change in recording practice and the actual rise was only four per cent.
The figures yesterday prompted BBC Look North to describe West Yorkshire as “the new crime capital of England and Wales”.
In response, Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams of West Yorkshire Police, said: “West Yorkshire Police is committed to reducing crime, reoffending and anti-social behaviour, whilst protecting and supporting victims and witnesses.
“While we do sit highest in terms of crimes per 1,000 population and crime severity, the two are interlinked and this is a recent rise. We are not that dissimilar from other metropolitan forces, who face the same complex and diverse challenges that we do.”
She added: Not only is recorded crime up, but so is the demand placed on West Yorkshire Police. In the last 12 months, we have seen an increase of around four per cent in calls for service from the public.
“Whilst some of this demand previously may have sat with other partners, we are working hard, in partnership, to ensure the best possible service is given to the public.
“Much of this demand relates to missing people, vulnerable members of the community and those suffering from mental health issues.”
Ms Williams said the force had begun recruiting again during 2016 and was “well on track to recruit more than 500 new officers, with about half of this number being additional posts”.
Crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said: “No-one wants to see a rise in crime in their community and I will continue to work with the police and our many partners to keep West Yorkshire safe and feeling safe.
“It’s important that these figures are put into context given the affect crime recording changes continue to have and the changing and increasing demand on our police service.
“It’s also worth noting that the figures for West Yorkshire are not dissimilar to other Metropolitan police services that face similar policing and community safety challenges.
“However, I take crime recording and West Yorkshire Police’s performance very seriously and will continue to scrutinise these figures, engage with our communities and regularly meet with the Chief Constable to make sure West Yorkshire Police are doing all they can to keep people safe.”