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Express & Star comment: It is time for action over crime

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

The results of the Express & Star crime survey make for worrying, but not entirely unexpected, reading.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid

Anyone who engages with the public on a regular basis will be fully aware of the deeply-held concern about the state of policing in the West Midlands and Staffordshire.

There is equal concern about the criminal justice system and the weak nature of sentences too often applied to deeply-disturbing court cases.

Not surprisingly then, the figures make for a damning verdict.

Some people may be tempted to dismiss these results as the findings of a non-scientific exercise.

And this is true, to an extent. The Express & Star does not claim this is a detailed dossier to be dissected in minute detail. However, it is clearly a snapshot of public opinion and those in authority dismiss it at their peril.

We have deep sympathy with – and huge admiration for – those who strive tirelessly to keep our streets safe, particularly on the stretched frontline of policing.

But the perception among our readers is that, despite their best efforts, not only are they failing in their task – they are being failed by those above them. Whether that be in reducing crime, solving crime or reassuring the public about crime, the system is clearly not working.

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Crime in some areas is rampant and far too few victims are getting justice.

To claim otherwise is at best deluded and, at worst, disingenuous.

The public are not stupid, they see what is going on in their streets and they see the response to it.

They are clearly not happy.

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They are dissatisfied and concerned and rightly so.

Of people who reported a crime in the past 12 months, who responded to our survey, only one in 20 were satisfied with how it was dealt with. A clear 96 per cent of respondents disagreed with the policy of closing police stations.

Beyond the upper realms of police officials, who wouldn’t?

Senior officers and crime commissioners talk of reinvesting savings into frontline forces, but the public understandably fail to see the benefits.

Crime continues to rise.

The policy isn’t working.

And as for the police and crime commissioners, nine out of 10 people are not happy with the job they are doing.

These expensive offices were set up to oversee policing and to provide a public voice to steer police priorities in the right direction. They are there to prevent standards falling below an acceptable level.

Clearly this isn’t happening in the eyes of the public.

Of course, the crime commissioners and chief constables can only operate within the financial restraints of the budget set by the central Government.

For a Conservative administration to have approached the issue of crime, policing and criminal justice in such a complacent, cynical and incompetent way is contemptible.

Since 2010, there has been a reduction of 20,000 police officers while crime has inexorably risen.

As Prime Minister Theresa May must shoulder responsibility.

Now the spotlight turns to Sajid Javid to see what response he will offer to the biggest public opinion survey on crime the West Midlands has ever seen.

One thing is for sure, complaining about lack of funding simply will not wash with a public that is sick and tired of politicians being unwilling or incapable to take this issue seriously and do something about it.

The current way of working cannot continue. It is time for a new approach to policing.

The people of the West Midlands are demanding action – and they are demanding it now.

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