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550 extra West Midlands Police officers on way in U-turn

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More than 500 extra police officers will be recruited in the West Midlands to tackle soaring levels of crime, it was revealed today.

More than £60 million will be spent taking on 550 staff at West Midlands Police, as chiefs admit officers are 'struggling' with demands put on them.

It comes despite the force recently shedding 1,000 police officers – and a tax hike is on the way to pay for the new officers.

Police and crime commissioner Bob Jones has unveiled the proposals which are to be reviewed over the coming weeks, but if approved it will mean a 6p rise per week for most households in the West Midlands.

The £60m will come from the force's stockpiles of reserves and Mr Jones admitted it would mean them living 'beyond our means' for two to three years.

Mr Jones said: "We've lost over 1,000 police officers and July saw the highest level of demand (from crime) for years.

"Having lost those officers we're starting to struggle with the high level of demand.

"Removing resources means you have more crime – and therefore more demand (on officers). Rather than take those resources away we're putting £60m in to make sure we can take on new officers."

Under the plans 250 officers will be taken on in 2014/15, including transferees from other forces, before a further 200 are recruited in 2015/16. And 100 people will be hired to fill police staff posts, therefore releasing 100 officers for operational duties.

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Mr Jones said that having to use up the reserves was a problem.

He said: "We're living beyond our means for two to three years. We need to ensure our income base can bridge that gap."

The proposals are outlined in a report due to be presented to the Strategic Policing and Crime Board on November 5.

The West Midlands PCC currently charges the second lowest police precept in England and Mr Jones said even with the 6p increase – which works out as £3 per year, the region would remain the second lowest by some way.

He added: "These proposals are for consultation and have to be endorsed by the West Midlands Police and Crime Panel, so it is vital that myself and the Panel hear the views of as many people in the West Midlands as possible."

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