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Crime wave sparks row over West Midlands Police funding

By Rob Golledge | Crime | Published:

A surge in crime across the Black Country and Staffordshire has sparked a row over police funding.

Recorded offences rocketed by 14 per cent in the West Midlands and West Mercia, and 13 per cent in Staffordshire.

But concerns have been raised after significant rises in house burglaries, robberies, theft, and car crime were revealed of up to 42 per cent.

West Midlands Labour Police and Crime Commission David Jamieson blamed Government funding cuts, saying the loss of 2,000 officers was 'taking its toll'.

He said: "The rise in crime in the West Midlands and across the country is a major concern. These figures are further evidence the government needs to change course on police funding.

"West Midlands Police has lost £145 million from central government since 2010.

"Despite being rated as outstandingly efficient by the independent inspectors the, fact we have 2,000 fewer officers fighting crime is starting to take its toll.

"Despite the challenges faced, we are determined to get on with the job of keeping people in the West Midlands safe."

Today he revealed plans to hike average tax bills by £5 to fund a pay rise worth two per cent for 3,000 non-officer staff next year worth £1 million – defying the one per cent public pay cap.

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In the West Midlands, house burglaries have risen by 33 per cent, robberies by 23 per cent, and overall violent crime by 13 per cent.

While in Staffordshire, house burglaries have risen by 27 per cent, robberies by 25 per cent, and violence by 14 per cent.

In West Mercia, house burglaries have risen by an astonishing 42 per cent.

The figures were recorded between June 2016 and June this year.

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Wolverhampton Liberal Democrat campaigner Sarah Quarmby said: "I'm deeply worried. We are seeing a surge in violent crime and sexual offences. When we have the highest knife crime in six years we should see warning lights. When young people leave the house with a knife something has gone wrong.

"This all marks a steep rise in recorded crime and our streets are not as safe as they used to be.

"I welcome the fact that hard working public sector workers are getting a pay rise. But it is a poor day to announce it. It allows people to say crime rises and so does your tax."

Walsall North Tory MP Eddie Hughes said: "The latest crime figures are disappointing and I will be raising it with the Police and Crime Commissioner, but more importantly with the Home Secretary."

On the planned tax rise to fund staff pay rises, Conservative Dudley South MP Mike Wood added: "There will be a lot of residents questioning why, when the commissioner is making claims of destitution, increases in tax are not being spent on getting more officers on the street and more people tackling crime to keep everyone safe."

West Midlands Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe said: “We understand people’s concerns around violent crime and the effect it can have on communities. While it makes up a very small proportion of overall crime, we appreciate the disproportionate impact it has on people’s quality of life and feelings of safety.

“That’s why we launched Operation Yawbridge, which has seen numerous warrants executed and more than 60 weapons seized as we disrupt criminal gangs and bring them before the courts.

“Our firearms surrender in September saw more than 140 firearms and pieces of ammunition safely taken off the streets.

“We are working tirelessly to understand the reasons why young people carry knives. We work closely with schools and parents to educate, as we continue to bring offenders to justice."

Nationally, recorded crime is up 13 per cent with 5.2 million incidents in the 12 month period.

The rise in the statistics is the largest annual rise in a decade and continues a recent trend of crime increases, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

But the Crime Survey for England and Wales, which measures people's experiences of crime, says nationally there were 10.8 million offences – recorded and not recorded – a nine per cent fall.

John Flatley, from the ONS, said: "While improvements made by police forces in recording crime are still a factor in the increase, we judge that there have been genuine increases in crime - particularly in some of the low incidence but more harmful categories."

But he said police figures alone cannot provide ' a good measure of all crime in society'.

"The recent increases in recorded crime need to be seen in the context of the overall decline in crime indicated by the Crime Survey for England and Wales," he said.

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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