'It's a lawless town' - Fears raised over crime wave in Willenhall after ram raid and robberies
Residents and business owners living in fear of a crime wave in Willenhall grilled council bosses, police and their local MP at a special meeting.
The town has previously been labelled 'lawless' after a spate of crime including a ram raid at a supermarket and robberies at Poundland.
A meeting was held at Willenhall Chart Centre on Gomer Street to discuss how the crime wave can be tackled.
Simon Futcher, head of security for Poundland nationally, said that one robbery at the Willenhall town centre store saw staff tied up and has left them 'fearing' opening up every day.
Addressing a bench consisting of councillors Diane and Sean Coughlan, MP Eddie Hughes and sergeant Harjinder Cheema of Willenhall Police team, Mr Futcher said: "Statistically, the Willenhall Poundland is the worst for crime out of any in the country.
"There have been robberies there over recent months and one has left staff who were tied up emotionally scarred, it has had a real lasting effect for them and their families.
"I understand that police resources are stretched more than ever but these staff are fearing for their safety every morning when they open up."
Residents also voiced their concerns over drink driving, drug dealing and muggings on the streets of Willenhall to the panel.
Sergeant Cheema said the public needed to work with police to help them find the culprits and added that patrols had been stepped up in the town over recent weeks.
He said: "We have had a positive response from the community after increasing patrols.
"We need to work together to do this and we can only work from the information we are given.
"There are a number of known criminals we are working on bringing to justice as we speak but there isn't much we can say about that at the moment, but we have seen a prolific shoplifter in the town put behind bars for 10 weeks earlier this week."
Councillor Sean Coughlan, who represents the town and is leader of Walsall Council, said the authority has invested in covert cameras to catch fly-tippers and is investing more cash into upgrading CCTV across the borough.
He said: "Nobody loves Willenhall more than me and I don't like to see things like they are at the moment but we are working to improve the situation.
"We have seen a known prolific fly-tipper locked up earlier this year and the council is investing in new CCTV which Willenhall will benefit from."
MP Eddie Hughes said that he has been lobbying Government for more funding for police across the West Midlands and if he is successful he will ensure Willenhall benefits from that.
He said: "I agree with all of your concerns and I am trying to get the people of Willenhall the protection they deserve.
"I have asked for more money from the police minister and if I am unsuccessful it doesn't stop there, I will keep fighting."