Police & Fire – I want to say from the outset that Wednesfield North is a ‘low crime Ward’. It’s a Ward that is NOT without crime. But when measured against others in Wolverhampton, Walsall and South Staffordshire it regularly come out in the top quartile with low crime statistics. During the year your Local Councillors have had a lot of contact with West Midlands Police force and the Local team that manages crime in the Ward. The Arson incidents in the early part of the year in Wednesfield were of a major concern. There were Fires at St Albans School, The Narrow Boat and the Care Company in Linthouse Lane – all huge community talking points. Sadly it appears that there were No arrests for any of those incidents as we come to an end of the Year. The fact that there has been no detections is very disappointing.
We had a lot of issues relating to noisy neighbours this year and more than a share of Anti-Social Behaviour. Parking issues continue to vex neighbours, and raise complaints. This year has seen me raise much more issues around drugs in this Ward than at any time previous. In fact I have made 15 requests to West Midlands Police about Drug issues, compared to 5 in the same period in 2014. I am pleased to say that the Police in a number of instances have acted positively. But the drug menace to society is present here and we really must do more to combat it going forward. This is not just a police matter, it is an issue that involves the whole community. We need to inform the Police on any issue that you see, or failing that inform any one of your three Councillors.
In June I worked with West Midlands Fire to promote Free fire Alarms in our community and received this nice ‘Thank You’ note for promoting the Home Safety Check. I was interested to know how many fires there had been in 2013/14and I was informed that there were 9 primary fires and 11 secondary fires in Wednesfield North ward. In the same financial year there were 389 primary fires and 612 secondary fires in Wolverhampton. I was also keen to know how many incidents in the City of Wolverhampton there was –The information was that there were 283 incidents of those in Wolverhampton, 192 of them had an alarm, which activated in 131 incidents. It looks from that information that having a fire alarm fitted is much better than having no alarm fitted!
- May – I objected to the closure of West Midlands Police Front Desks including the one at Wednesfield – I wrote “I just want to place on record that I feel that the closure of the ‘front desk’ at Wednesfield and other WM force Police Stations are not what the public want to see when they are in need of help. I know it is a matter where I have no control, but I would hate myself if I did not voice my opinions. I feel that the loss of any public – police facility, inevitably causes distance to develop between the community and the police force. Making the Police more remote from the community that they serve.” The Front Desk was closed.
- June– Complaints by residents about a ‘door to door’ caller following a number of burglaries in the area, led to the Police being informed. The Police managed to catch up with the male. He works for a company that do the door to door selling on behalf of the RSPCA. Everything was in order. I thank residents for the information.
- June – Terrorism – important information regarding West Midlands current situation around Syria was sent to Local Councillors.
- June – The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) approved the first steps in an intensive programme of work set to bring a Blueprint modernise Policeo life over the next five years.
- In June the WMP inform me that Cyber crime, bodyworn cameras, the reshaping of local policing, contact with the public and the investigation of crime all feature, aimed at creating a more agile and digitally capable force equipped to fight and prevent crime.
- Chris Simms West Midlands Police Chief
Constable informed the PCC and City Councillors that sometime early in the New Year he will be moving on from his current post as Chief Constable to face new challenges elsewhere.
- July- Terrorism in Tunisia led to this reassurance note to elected Members. “All communities will clearly have been affected by the attack in Tunisia. Police will be working over the coming days and weeks with partners locally to ensure that victims’ families and also wider communities are supported at a very difficult time.”
- July – Illegal Use of a motorcycle reported on Green Open Space on Ashmore Park
- July– Councillors supported the Police & Fire initiative with Wednesfield NHT who organised six ‘Blue Light Play in the park sessions’ specifically aimed at engaging Wednesfield children/youths. A very good initiative that was well received by the youngsters and the public at large…We hope a similar arrangement will be made in the Summer months of 2016.
August there was again controversy in Wednesfield High Street when vehicles which are being driven in the High Street illegally are putting the pedestrians at risk. Wednesfield North residents requested my help to get the Police involved and prevent these dangerous practices taking place. There was contact with West Midland’s Police and this was their response. WMP “Since my team took over responsibility for the High Street at the end of May, we have conducted four focussed high visibility initiatives on the High Street aimed at targeting prohibitive driving. Numerous drivers have been deterred and advised. One vehicle has been seized and the driver issued with a fixed penalty notice. I instructed the operation as service to the local community as the matter has previously been raised as a PACT priority.”
The Police went onto say –“Local councillors have historically raised the issue with the City council in an attempt to find a more permanent solution. Unfortunately a solution from this route has not been forthcoming. Previous policing teams have found that prosecution is a very short term solution. With finite resources, the local Neighbourhood team is not in a position to permanently provide enforcement. Perhaps this issue is something that you may able to influence through the local council? Maybe a consultation?”
Clearly the Police were informing that prosecutions and short term actions in this area was not enough. Worse still is they indicated that they did not have the resources to constantly tackle the matter in the way they have! I wrote then to the City Council – “My constituents in Wednesfield North are more and more restless about the High St Wednesfield and all the cars that invade it, regardless of the highways orders. I have recently wrote to the Police and they have responded stating that they do not have resources bu also hinting that recent intervention by cameras in the bus lane, had not gone unnoticed and they and the Police seem to be hinting at this solution to the High Street problem. Can you please give URGENT consideration to assisting road safety in this busy High St by introducing cameras to catch the vehicles drivers that just refuse to take note of the law.I copied in my fellow Wednesfield Councillors with regard to this issue, and my request.
- September reports from residents of someone shooting birds with a firearm in or near The Ashmore Park regularly – Police informed and are taking the matter seriously.
- October– Serious Anti Social Behaviour reported to the Police in Peacock Ave
- October – Confirmation that “WMP are writing to inform you that following a thorough review of West Midlands Police buildings, it is intended that 28 identified premises, across the West Midlands, will be closed over the next two years.” Wednesfield Police Station is included in this decision .
- October– More birds shot by youths with fire arms this time on the Wyrley & Essington Canal. Police Informed.
November Police Commissioner David Jamieson has hit out at the “farce” of an additional £37 million the Government promised the West Midlands force, which has been delayed for a year after civil servants based the payment on the wrong data.
- On the 25th November I wrote to the Police & Crime Commissioner warning him about the loss of PCSO’s in the budget cuts that were being worked upon. I informed him that the Public in Wednesfield felt as I do, that the PCSO’s were doing a very good job…Here is his most recent response to this ….
“Dear Phil – Thank you for your e-mail which was received on 25 November regarding your wish to seek clarification on the position of PCSO reductions after the Chancellor’s Spending Review announcement.
Until West Midlands Police has it’s funding allocation confirmed on December 16th we will not know our local funding going forward. For that reason I am unable to answer your question.
It should also be pointed out that the Chancellor’s comment that he has protected policing budgets is misleading. Central government funding for police forces is set to fall, we are seeking clarification on the top slicing of our budget and how counter terrorism will be supported. Local policing budgets will only be maintained if Police and Crime Commissioners choose to raise the precept to fill the gap left by government. As you know the announcement on PCSOs was made with a heavy heart, supporting them remains a key priority of mine. Thank you for taking the time to contact me on this important matter
- December – I again raise the issue of the loss of PCSO’s with the Police & Crime Commissioner, this time in person at the Meeting of the Labour Group. I again ensured that he understood exactly how Wednesfield residents felt.
Now This is a good point to finish this Police & Fire review on, as this particular part of my overall review I have just opened an email from the West Midlands Police that suggests that- The Police and Crime Commissioner is stating that following a year of funding battles he has had with Government “ that the PCSO jobs are saved!” Now if true that is a very positive end to my own review here .