Yorkshire police underwater search teams merger criticised

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The chair of West Yorkshire Police Federation has criticised the region-wide merger of its police divers.

Andrew Tempest Mitchell has said the move was "worrying" and was the "thin end of the wedge" for services.

In March the Yorkshire and Humberside Joint Police Authorities Committee approved plans to reduce the number of divers from 28 to 10.

The merger is due to start from 10 September, with the team based in the Humber region.

The report said the merger would enable savings of about £400,000.

Mr Tempest Mitchell said: "I'm worried from a West Yorkshire perspective that we don't have an active unit within the policing area, which is quite large.

"I think there are some gaps in there that just don't feel comfortable."

Dedicated team

Currently the three forces spend £1,125,000 per annum on marine and underwater search units. They deploy 28 divers, five of which are full time and 23 performing other duties.

Mark Whyman, deputy chief constable for the Yorkshire and Humberside Police Forces, said the reduction to 10 divers meant they would all now work full-time to the service.

"The new unit is a dedicated full-time team so costs associated with training and equipment can be optimised to provide the same level of specialist search and recovery support to all four forces in the region," he said.

"I am confident that the public will not see any difference in service levels, and that the £400,000 saved through creating a full-time team will go support neighbourhood and response policing."

From September the projected new unit based in the Humberside Police area will cost just under £720,000.

North Yorkshire Police, which has a contract to use West Yorkshire Police divers, will not be part of the regional merger but will retain the contracted service.

Mr Tempest Mitchell said: "It's the thin edge of the wedge really. It's the erosion all the time - policing matters, officers and now there is no dedicated presence in West Yorkshire."

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