New West Midlands Police and Crime Panel chair elected

Improved performance and confidence in West Midlands Police are at the top of the agenda of the man tasked with scrutinising the force.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster and Councillor Suky Samra, chair of West Midlands Police and Crime Panel
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster and Councillor Suky Samra, chair of West Midlands Police and Crime Panel

Walsall councillor Suky Samra was elected chair of the West Midlands Police and Crime Panel on Monday, having served three years on the committee.

The panel will scrutinise the work of new West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Simon Foster, who was elected to the role in May.

But Councillor Samra said early meetings have been positive and he is confident they can work together to bring “better policing” across the region.

He also said the panel is looking into confidence in the force and how that can be improved.

They will help shape Labour PCC Mr Foster’s new Police and Crime Plan that will set out priorities, which are expected to include tackling domestic violence, child exploitation, hate crime and bringing back community policing.

Other work will include agreeing the force’s budget and setting the council tax precept for policing.

Councillor Samra, who represents Streetly for the Conservatives, said: “We met Simon Foster, the new PCC and we hope to have a good working relationship with him. The panel is a scrutiny of the PCC but it is also a critical friend.

“Confidence in West Midlands policing is not the best at the moment and I think together the panel and Simon can improve that. We feel that we all want better policing for the West Midlands.

He added: “The panel has got a lot of new members and have to work with the commissioner in the forming of a new plan.

“He’s taken that consultation to formulate his plan and the panel is also having its own inquiry into confidence in West Midlands Police.

“We are talking to stakeholders and we hope to wrap up our inquiry at the same time the commissioner does and we can all formulate a police and crime plan together.

“I welcome the new PCC is prioritising community policing. You ask anyone and they’ll say we lack community policing.

“We want to help the commissioner in delivering all the priorities, which he has highlighted and are still out for consultation. I think those are right.

“It’s a great chance to reset the panel’s relationship with the new police and crime commissioner and we will have a plan.

“It is going to be a good year, there is a lot to do but if we achieve our goal of better policing it will be better for all.”

Councillor Samra’s deputy will be independent panel member Kristina Murphy.

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