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Crime rates soar: Huge spike in robbery, violence and thugs carrying weapons

By Rob Golledge | Crime | Published:

Crime has rocketed by eight per cent in the West Midlands with huge spikes in robbery, violence, burglary, and thugs carrying weapons.

Top, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, bottom, West Midlands Police chief constable David Thompson and the scene of the Wilkinson's family home in Stourbridge after the fatal stabbings

Robberies were up by 14 per cent last year and there were increases in recorded violence and burglary by 11 per cent, theft by nine per cent, and possession of a weapon by 17 per cent, a bombshell report has revealed.

So-called 'hidden crime' such as domestic abuse made up 10.2 per cent of all crime reported last year.

It comes as police chiefs say they are facing 'unprecedented demand' and made calls for the Government to increase funding.

And Chief Constable Dave Thompson – who last week warned that cuts to policing meant forces were beginning to struggle – said some police operations – such as missing persons inquiries – faced being 'dialled down' to cope with the surge in crime.

The shocking figures were unveiled in a performance report yesterday at the West Midlands Strategic Policing and Crime Board meeting in Birmingham.

It said: "The levels of reported domestic abuse and historical sexual offending have contributed significantly to the rise in offending, however, levels of acquisitive crime have been high during the last six months especially theft from and of vehicles, and the force is working hard with the Commissioner in coordinating a response.

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"The last two months have seen unprecedented levels of demand placed on the force.

"The new operating model allows us to respond more flexibly than ever before but sustained austerity means we have fewer staff with the expectations on us are higher than ever.

"We respond to increasingly complex vulnerability while traditional crime is again increasing."

Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner Ashley Bertie, who chaired the meeting in absence of his boss David Jamieson, said: "The public will rightly be concerned at the worrying upsurge in crime and drop in performance.

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"Crime is no longer falling and that must be considered by government as an important reason to change course on police funding and also act as a reminder to the force that the public will expect a strong plan of action to tackle this upsurge."

Robberies rose by 35 per cent in Dudley and Walsall last year with Sandwell having the second highest rate in the region with 2.2 incidents per 1,000 people.

Walsall also had the second highest burglary rate with nearly 10 people in every 1,000 being a victim of burglary last year.

Meanwhile more than a quarter (25.8 per cent) of male convicts go on to commit more crimes, as do a fifth (20.1 per cent) of women.

While 37.6 per cent of male juveniles and 28.6 per cent of women under 18 reoffend.

Mr Thompson told the meeting that the force had enough 'resource' but that the 'rate and pace' of the recent terrorism attacks and the temporary increase in the terror threat level meant more officers were being diverted to other duties.

Force command is holding weekly to address the rise in crime and the situation is expected to worsen during the summer when crime rates typically soar, he said.

He said: "Are we managing? Yes, we are – but what we are having to do is put an increase in responding to the demand at the moment and that has had diversion of staff from neighbourhood duties."

He added: "On occasions the public are having to wait longer than they would like to and the quality of experience may not be what the public might aspire to or what we would aim to deliver.

"Our challenge in the elevated security situation we are in, trying to manage the day job is quite challenging and stepping up resources for other events or activities is creating a stretch.

"We are (resourced to meet demand), but the point I have been making is that the force's budget is continuing to stand still in cash terms and that means the amount of resources diminishing."

Rob Golledge

By Rob Golledge
@golledge_star

Part of the Express & Star special projects team responsible for investigations and major stories from politics to counter terrorism

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