PCC candidate vows nearly 200 extra community officers to tackle knife crime scourge
Labour's candidate for West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner has vowed to tackle knife crime by putting nearly 200 extra officers in the community.
Simon Foster has prioritised knife crime in his bid for office and says he will place an extra officer on duty in every council ward in the region if he gets elected next May – a total of 192 officers.
Insisting that violent crime is "preventable", Mr Foster said knife crime could not be solved by "arresting our way out of the problem" and vowed to boost funding for early intervention initiatives including the Violence Reduction Unit.
According to the most recent Home Office figures, the West Midlands has the second highest knife crime rate in the country behind London, with 3,437 offences involving a blade in the year to March – 118 offences per 100,000 population.
Mr Foster is bidding to replace current Labour PCC David Jamieson, who is standing down next year.
He announced his plans at an emergency meeting last night, which was called in response to last weekend's mayhem in Birmingham city centre which left 23-year-old Jacob Billington dead and seven people injured.
Mr Foster said the action taken on knife crime by successive Conservative governments had been "far too fragmented, small-scale and has lacked the urgency required".
"There has been a lack of political will and an abject failure to do whatever it takes," he added.
"I will not accept that and I will not forgive it. Violent crime is not inevitable and it is preventable
"However, we simply cannot solve knife crime by arresting our way out of the problem. Prevention and reduction of knife crime will always be a priority for me."
Mr Foster has also pledged to "restore youth services" by boosting the numbers of dedicated youth workers, as well as boosting funding for the West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit to help prevention.
The meeting was also attended by Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner, as well as stakeholders including Lynne Baird, who set up the Daniel Baird Foundation in honour of her murdered son to campaign for the wider circulation of bleed control kits to save lives.
Ms Rayner said: "The tragic events in Birmingham last weekend shocked the country. We must use this moment to redouble our efforts to tackle the scourge of knife crime at both a national level and locally in every community."
Other candidates in May's election are Jay Singh-Sohal (Cons) and Julie Hambleton (Indep).