Hundreds more bobbies on beat pledged by new Police and Crime Commissioner

As many as 450 extra community police officers have been promised by newly-elected West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) as one of his first acts in office.

Hundreds more bobbies on beat pledged by new Police and Crime Commissioner

Labour's Simon Foster, a former legal aid solicitor, said he wants to be known as a ‘PCC who engages with, listens to and works with the people of the West Midlands’.

Mr Foster, who starts in the role today, won a commanding victory in last week's election against Conservative candidate Jay Singh-Sohal by more than 40,000 votes.

And he believes it was his team’s messaging that saw them buck the national trend of Conservative gains, with a focus on community policing and helping vulnerable victims of crime.

“It was an exciting day on Saturday – tense, a long day, but it’s gradually sinking in,” he said of his victory.

“I think we won partly because in many respects the public have lost confidence in the Conservative government over crime, policing and the criminal justice system in the past ten years, but in addition to that, and I think this was the most important part, we ran a positive campaign around key policy issues that the people of the WM really cared about.

“For example, in relation to community policing, in relation to reducing violent crime and tackling knife crime, and combatting violence against women and girls and domestic abuse, and many other policy issues as well.

“I pledge 450 extra community police officers out on the streets of the West Midlands, to keep people and their families and communities safe. The way we’re going to do that is, of the 1,200 net uplift that the West Midlands is due to get between 2020 and 2023, I would like to see 450 of those police officers allocated to community policing.

“I think it’s important because it came across loud and clear during the course of the campaign, and I travelled up and down the West Midlands and across the West Midlands – visible, proactive, preventative, problem-solving community policing was something that was incredibly popular, and I do think that chimed with the electorate.”

Another area of focus for the new PCC is domestic abuse, with an increase in incidents as the country went into lockdown during the pandemic.

And he wants to see an improvement in the availability of victims services, while also committing to a ‘network of domestic abuse advocates’.

“Well I think we’ve seen during lockdown in particular that violence against women and girls, and particularly domestic abuse, has been a huge issue of public concern, and it’s certainly a huge issue of concern for myself,” he said.

“I want combating violence against women and girls to be a key priority – it obviously has huge impacts on people and families, and it’s really important that the police use all the powers available to them.

“I want to extend a network of domestic abuse advocates, cause I think that’s really key to ensure that victims of violence are able to navigate the system, and I want victims services to be available at the right place at the right time, for victims and survivors as well.

“We need to make sure that victims services are working for people, I want to promote the rights of victims, we need to have victim support services that are available at the right place at the right time for people.

“I want to be a people and communities police and crime commissioner. And what I mean by that is a PCC who engages with, listens to and works with the people of the West Midlands.”

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