Why I think we should have a serious think about West Midlands Police numbers.
It is a fact that we should look to be reviewing the Police and the way they function at the moment, I cannot be the only Local Politician that gets frustrated at the current situation. Here in Wednesfield North it is a fact that it is consistently amongst the lowest reported crime beats in Wolverhampton.
That is not to say that it has no crime, nor that the crime it has is any less important than high crime areas.
But we are told time and time again that we have to have police numbers to reflect the crime that is taking place.
My frustration is that there are days when my Ward of Wednesfield North does not have the Police Constable or the Police Community Support Officer on duty. I estimate that this happens a couple of days every week. It’s also hard to get a response from the Officers when you email information or make requests. So if I pass information on to my team electronically about issues, you can wait a week or longer to get a response.
Now in my mind in these dark days this is not the way forward at all.
Senior Officers are shrinking from sight, you never see anyone other than a PC and a Sgt, the link between the force and the public is getting more and more remote. The reason is clearly because the police numbers are shrinking, and shrinking.
In March 2017 Her Majesties Inspectorate of Constabulary for Policing in England and Wales said that policing was in a “potentially perilous state” as government cuts lead to investigations being shelved, vulnerable victims being let down and tens of thousands of dangerous suspects remaining at large.”
In a report on effectiveness in policing, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) uncovered a range of “dangerous” and “disturbing” practices that have arisen out of police forces’ approach to dealing with budget cuts of 20%.
We have a chance now in these very dark days of terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.
The public has a great chance to question where our Leaders are taking us. These heinous terrorist crimes have place a spotlight on the Police and their battle to do a tough job with shrinking resources. At this time in the end days of a General Election, we voters have a perfect right to demand that whichever Party wins the #GE2017 campaign, they immediately sit down and with the public, review the Police service in their area, the resources that are available and the plans to how they are to be used.
Serving Officers are currently unhappy at the way the previous Government has axed thousands of Police Officers from the ranks. We are reading their comments in the national press, and in the social media.
I know that here in Wednesfield North residents like me will blanch at the relevation that some police staff, as reported in the HMIC report, are deliberately downgrading emergency calls in order to justify a slower response when there is a shortage of officers, HMIC said, while others are reclassifying high-risk domestic abuse victims to a lower level of concern.
Police Officers is some forces are being assigned to investigations that they are not qualified to conduct, the HMIC found, while other forces are struggling to get to grips with the volume of wanted suspects – including murderers, rapists and violent offenders.
Around a third of domestic abuse cases across England and Wales are being shelved because the victim does not support police action – this rises to 50% in five of the 43 forces, which has led to concern at HMIC that officers are not properly discharging their responsibilities in a bid to slash their workload.
HMIC also issued a warning that a shortage of detectives and investigators amounts to a “national crisis”. I have made previous comment about the fact that the Met Police are recruiting with the proviso that new detectives no longer have to come through uniformed ranks! I have also previously made my comments known about the encouragement for the public to self report…..
Its this type of professional report (HMIC) published earlier this year (in March to be precise) that is also helping to fuel the public debate.
There is a great swell of Public Opinion that wants to see MORE police officers not less on the local beats and active in our communities. The Prime Minister who was Home Office Secretary for 6 years and who as Prime Minister has driven forward Police cuts, needs to know that we all want to be safe!
We all want to be safe from crime, we all want to see crime solved quicker, and at better rates than they currently are now here in the West Midlands. We all want to be safe from terrorism also.
I also want to see more PCSO’s not less planned for and delivered.
In my mind the PCSO’s are good value for the money, they are great additions to the Local Force, they get close to the neighbourhood. They work well with community Groups and the Community policing teams. They provide the low level intelligence for the Police teams that operate in our neighbourhoods. They are an extra pair of trained eyes for the constabulary. They also interact well with Councillors and other elected Members,when they need too. There are currently too few PCSO’s across the West Midlands in my opinion.
So as we go into the last days of the election perhaps we can air our opinions so that those seeking our votes know that Policing must change for the better, and that more ‘boots’ needs to be back on the beat, making us safer, and making us feel safer!
This HMIC report clearly placed Government austerity in the dock detailing stretched forces, downgrading calls, and leaving suspects at large. We want our Police back and in a modern force with the resources to protect us, our families, and our property!
We do not want our Police here in Wednesfield or the West Midlands to be in a perilous state.
I do hope my constituents in Wednesfield North will think about these issues when they enter the Voting Booths and vote in the ballot box#GE2017 on Thursday.
I give fair warning to my colleagues on Wolverhampton City Council. I give notice that in this Municipal year I shall be asking plenty of questions about our safety in the City, and how we are going to be influencing the Police & Crime Commissioner, and the new Government to make more resources available to make Wednesfield and Wolverhampton safer for all.