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I'll give officers 'more teeth' to do the job - new West Midlands Police chief

The new chief of West Midlands Police says he will give officers "a bit more teeth" to crack down on crime as part of a return to neighbourhood policing.

Craig Guildford is the new Chief Constable
Craig Guildford is the new Chief Constable

Chief Constable Craig Guildford said that under his watch, residents in the Black Country will see more bobbies on the beat and that local inspectors will be backed in the use of stop and search powers.

He also vowed to improve the force's atrocious record on 999 calls, which has seen fewer than four in 10 emergency calls answered in the target time of 15 minutes.

Mr Guildford, who has succeeded Sir David Thompson as Chief Constable, told the E&S: "I'm a big believer in neighbourhood policing and I'm a big believer in visibility.

"I am going to be investing in local neighbourhood policing, and I will be giving those officers and their leaders a bit more teeth to do the job."

The 49-year-old, who spent five years as chief at Nottinghamshire Police where he oversaw a falling crime rate, said he was relishing the "size of the challenge" at the country's second biggest force.

He said he wanted West Midlands Police to build trust in communities by "being there when we are needed" and would "empower" local police leaders and officers to reduce crime.

Mr Guildford said: "We've got some more recruitment coming this year and I'm hopeful we will be back at the 8,000-officer number quickly.

"That will give us the additional resources we need to improve visibility on a local level and to really get back into preventative policing."

He said he was very much in favour of the "intelligent use" of stop and search, adding: "I want to make sure that we are fully transparent in the use of those powers and that we are held to account publicly."

Mr Guildford said he was determined to make the force good at the "repetitive basic tasks" that are the bread and butter of policing, such as responding to calls for service "in good time" and making sure the right calls were prioritised.

"We're very good at the big jobs but we need to be big enough to care about some of the smaller jobs as well," he said.

"That means making sure we have got enough bums on seats to answer calls – and certainly I do see those numbers increasing over time – but also to maximise our use of technology to ensure we are ready at times of peak demand."

Mr Guildford said his neighbourhood policing plan will see him examining the number of stations and police bases currently available to officers.

He has pledged to retain experienced officers but also wants to develop apprenticeships as a route into policing.

"I want to make sure the door is open for local people to come and work for West Midlands Police as an employer of choice," he said.

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