West Midlands beat bobbies fall amid spike in violent crime
The number of bobbies on the beat in the West Midlands has dropped by more than 200 in three years – as violent crime rocketed by nearly 60 per cent.
Home Office figures released today show that West Midlands Police has seen a six per cent fall in front line officers, prompting senior officers to warn that the force was losing its ‘eyes and ears’.
In the same period the number of violent crimes recorded in the region jumped by a staggering 59 per cent up to 57,712.
It was a similar story in Staffordshire where the force lost 17 beat bobbies over the period, while West Mercia Police now has 100 fewer front line officers than it did in 2015.
Both areas also saw huge increases in violent offences, with West Mercia seeing a 94 per cent spike and Staffordshire a rise of 74 per cent.
Across England and Wales, more than 7,000 visible front line officers have been lost over the last three years – a reduction of 11 per cent.
Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, John Apter, said: “Since 2010, we have lost more than 21,000 police officers with 80 per cent of those being taken from the front line. Neighbourhood officers represent the backbone of policing in this country – local officers who are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the service, providing a reassuring presence on the streets helping to detect and prevent crimes.
“As we lose neighbourhood officers we lose the vital investigative and intelligence-gathering roles they perform in our communities.
“The Government has to acknowledge that as violent crime increases, and with the ever-present threat of terrorism, the cuts to the service are coming home to roost and it is our communities that are suffering as a result.”
West Midlands Police chief constable Dave Thompson has warned that cuts to the force budget had hindered its ability to deal with increasing levels of crime.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Forces are changing how they deliver local policing to reflect the priorities of local people and so that they can respond better to the changing nature of crime. Decisions about front line policing, and how resources are best deployed, are for chief constables and police and crime commissioners.”
West Midlands Police had 3,313 officers in visible front line roles this March, including 876 neighbourhood officers, who are posted in the community to gather intelligence and provide help at the scene of crimes, and 1,643 incident response officers.
The force is the smallest it has ever been, with an overall total of 6,756 officers compared to 8,626 in 2010.