Express & Star

Commissioner calling for more officers in open letter to Home Secretary

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner is calling on the Home Secretary Suella Braverman to take action to improve crime prevention measures to protect communities.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Simon Foster

In an open letter commissioner Simon Foster told Miss Braverman that the "prevention of crime will always be better than having to deal with the consequences of crime".

Among the points, it states that reinstating community models of policing, by are among the efforts beings made to crackdown on criminals and anti-social behaviour in the force region.

The letter states: "I have no doubt that you will be reassured by the fact that in the West Midlands I have been leading the way. I agree with you that community policing is the bedrock of British Policing.

"That is why, I committed to rebuilding community policing in my manifesto published in April 2021, upon which I was elected in May 2021 and again within my Police and Crime Plan, published on November 1, 2021.

"The reason community policing needed rebuilding was because it had been dismantled, as a consequence of reckless cuts imposed on policing by the Government since 2010. That was a big mistake, counter-productive and a false economy. I am pleased that you now share my commitment to rebuilding community policing.

"We need preventative, proactive, problem solving, visible policing out on the streets, keeping people, families, business and local communities safe and secure. I do not seek to repeat the contents of my Police and Crime Plan in this letter. It sets out my plan to rebuild community policing, including improving confidence in local policing and police visibility. I would invite you to read it, if you have not done so already."

It further explains that in April, West Midlands Police launched a new Neighbourhood Policing Operating Model allocating extra resources to the seven Local Policing Areas under the control of Chief Superintendents to improve confidence in policing, police visibility and the ability to be able to respond flexibly to the needs residents.

He also calls for fair funding to cover the cost of constables and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and states: "West Midlands Police ha 800 fewer police officers and 500 fewer PCSOs than we did in 2010.

"The people of the West Midlands have been paying the price. Despite the commitment, dedication and hard work of police officers and staff, that has had a serious adverse impact on confidence in local policing and police visibility, response times, the conduct of investigations, including the pursuit of all reasonable lines of inquiry and the ability of West Midlands Police to prevent, tackle and reduce crime.

"The government continues to support a police funding formula that costs West Midlands Police £40 million a year, the equivalent of 800 police officers, people are paying more local Council Tax for less local policing, West Midlands Police received the fifth worst percentage 2023/2024 financial settlement in the country, faced £28 million of cuts in 2023/2024 and faces a further £28 million of cuts in 2024/2025.

"I remind myself that this is within the context of other police forces across the country, now having more police officers than they have ever had before. With all due respect, those police forces do not carry the same level of threat, risk, demand, need and vulnerability that West Midlands Police does. That is an entirely perverse outcome, that defies all common sense."

The letter outlines efforts to improve the force's 999 and 101 call response, tackling anti-social behaviour hotspots, support for victims of crime, support for the Home Office's proposed 101 Artificial Intelligence (AI) trial.

It also states: "On behalf of the people of the West Midlands I have three immediate requests all of which require urgent attention.

"Firstly, the government needs to face up to the acute financial challenges faced by West Midlands Police and step up with essential financial support, to ensure, amongst other matters, that the so-called Uplift is not wasted on putting police officers into roles where police powers are not required;

"Secondly, it needs to level up and reinstate our 800 missing police officers and 500 Police Community Support Officers; and

"Thirdly, it needs to implement a fair funding formula for West Midlands Police.

"All three of these requests are required so as to ensure justice, safety and security for the people, families, businesses and local communities of the West Midlands.

"In the West Midlands, we are united in our commitment to constant and unremitting action to prevent, tackle and reduce crime. That includes prevention, early intervention, diversion and addressing the underlying causes of crime, so that wherever possible, we are able to prevent crime happening in the first place, because the prevention of crime will always be better than having to deal with the consequences of crime."

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.