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Jobs to go as front-line policing is hit by cuts

Sandwell | News | Published:

Front-line policing services in specialist areas like forensics, CCTV and crime analysis for major investigations will be dealt a hammer blow by government cuts in the West Midlands, it was warned today.

Front-line policing services in specialist areas like forensics, CCTV and crime analysis for major investigations will be dealt a hammer blow by government cuts in the West Midlands, it was warned today.

Budget cuts of £78 million over the next two years and £125m over five years have now been approved. Staff working in such areas will be among the 1,000 civilian workers to be shed by the force, while a further 1,000 police officers will be axed.

A significant number will be experienced staff, including Sandwell Chief Supt Steve Dugmore, who is being retired next month, and others being forced to step down after 30 years.

About half of the dedicated CCTV operators at Wolverhampton's Bilston Street station have already been lost and more will follow, leaving officers to "try to spot" incidents while performing other duties.

It comes as a survey reveals public confidence in West Midlands Police is down across the board, with more people believing crime is on the rise.

Figures show people in the West Midlands believe police are increasingly failing to deal with crimes that matter, while less than half believe they can influence local policing policy.

The force failed to meet all eight of its own targets in the "trust and confidence" monitoring survey.

Wolverhampton Councillor Bob Jones, chairman of West Midlands Police Authority finance committee, said the task of reversing public anxiety about falling standards will become more difficult as experienced staff are lost to "the worst cuts of any force in the country."

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"We've had the first significant increase in crime in 15 years, we have the factors of the economic situation, rising youth unemployment, student protests, EDL demonstrations. It's not the right time to be losing more officers" he said.

"In Wolverhampton we've already lost about half of the CCTV operators and there will be more."

There are 8,486 police officer posts in the force.

And force spokeswoman Samantha Bates said: The number of people who are satisfied with the service offered by West Midlands police overall has increased since surveying began in 2006."

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