Labour frontbencher pledges 'to back bobbies' during crash course in Black Country crime fighting
The shadow policing minister was given a tour of West Bromwich's crime hotspots and promised local police officers and residents a Labour government would make crime fighting easier.
Alex Norris MP was shown how Sandwell Police is tackling car cruising on the Kendrick Park estate and heard how shoplifting and anti-social behaviour is the scourge of the town centre.
The politician was then told how residents are fed up of drag racing, public transport pick-pocketing and pensioners on the Lyng estate videoing defecating passersby outside their care home.
In a week when former Home Secretary Suella Braverman MP criticised the police for having a left-leaning agenda, Mr North praised the dedication and innovation of West Bromwich bobbies.
He said: "A politician should never speak about the police as the former Home Secretary did. Seeing the work being done in West Bromwich every day by officers who are making a difference under difficult circumstances is really inspiring.
"The massive cuts to frontline policing numbers under this Government have been devastating, but hearing from shopkeepers about shoplifting is also concerning."
The minister spoke to shopkeepers in Kings Square Shopping Centre who bemoaned prolific shoplifters who repeatedly target their stores.
Mr Norris added: "The decision during Covid not to go after shoplifting offences under £200 has caused havoc in town centres like West Bromwich and a Labour government would certainly look to change that."
The shadow policing minister was accompanied on his tour of West Bromwich by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster and Labour's West Bromwich candidate Sarah Coombes. They discussed the party's new plan to cut knife crime after another week of teenage deaths on the streets of the West Midlands.
Mr Foster said: "In the West Midlands we are doing a lot of trailblazing work when it comes to cutting knife crime, from our crime reduction partnerships to the vital contribution of youth workers, including working with youngsters in A&E departments and showing them alternative options available to them besides crime."
Sarah Coombes said: "It was great to have the shadow minister in West Bromwich taking time to speak to both residents and police officers. Labour’s mission is to halve knife crime and youth violence in a decade.
"Services for young people will be reformed, including mental health support, and this will be the focus of a major cross-departmental initiative if Labour wins the next election."
Sandwell Chief Constable Phil Griffiths said: "It was good to have him along, we are trying new ways to combat car cruising, he was passionate about policing which is always good to hear.
"I'm pretty new in the job, although I am from West Bromwich and my parents still live here. I understand how people might feel intimidated on the High Street due to groups of youths who congregate but often they are doing nothing wrong."
A church on the High Street hosted a round table event where residents and young people from estates including The Lying, Kendrick Park and Charlemont did not hold back with their experiences of living amid crime and anti-social behaviour.
Kendrick Park resident and anti-car cruising campaigner Jake George told PCC Foster he had yet to get a reply from two years of complaints about the drag racing on his estate and lamented the lack of arrests of "these drivers who cause havoc and noise almost every night".
West Bromwich Police Sergeant Paul Bishop patiently answered residents questions, complaints and concerns.
He said: "I think we are doing things better now, investigations which used to be handled by outside teams are now being dealt with by Sandwell Police.
"However, residents need to report crimes for us to be able to help them. It now only takes seven minutes to report a crime on the West Midlands Police website, it has never been easier to report a crime."