Express & Star comment: Force right to prioritise the frontline
No doubt a few eyebrows will be raised over the revelation that West Midlands Police are to use security workers to guard crime scenes.
The idea that private staff could be drafted in for such an important job would have seemed ridiculous a few years ago.
Crime scenes contain evidence that can prove vital to the police when it comes to securing a conviction, so you would think protecting such areas would be high on the force's list of priorities.
However, the need to allocate some police tasks away from frontline officers has become a necessity in the current climate.
The region's force has lost more than 2,000 officers since 2010, meaning that many of the tasks it used to complete with ease have become difficult to staff.
It just may be the case that farming out the contract to guard crime scenes may be a common sense approach.
At the very least, it will free up officers to help catch criminals and tackle crime in the region.
Having officers guarding scenes for hours on end is arguably not always a sensible use of precious resources.
If the force does decide to go down this route, it must make sure the contractors brought in are reliable.
The move must also be cost effective. There is little point in changing the current methods in place if there is are no financial savings to be made.
In the West Midlands crime is rising at an alarming rate.
There is hope that in the coming weeks the region's force will be handed a new funding settlement from the Government that prevents further budget cuts.
But in the meantime, the force is right to look at every possible way to free up officers to tackle and prevent crime.
It is clear that the future of the police in this country relies heavily on making the very best use of the manpower available.
This can also be seen with the new crackdown on gangs in the West Midlands, which will rely heavily on the efforts and support of communities.
While there is no doubt that policing is changing rapidly, we must always have officers available to serve on the frontline.