I know from my postbag that policing, crime and anti-social behaviour is a high priority concern for many of my constituents and indeed these are reflected during my frequent meetings with the Chief Superintendent, Kenny Bell, at the Sutton Coldfield Police Station.
That is also one of the reasons why I have welcomed the Government’s recent announcement of an above-inflation 3.5% increase in funding for the West Midlands Police despite the force’s downgrade in efficiency in its report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services in its recent PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment.
However there is a wider concern about how the current Labour Police and Crime Commissioner deploys and targets resources. There is evidence to suggest that police numbers are being concentrated in the City, at the expense of communities such as ours in the Royal Town. We are already witnessing a policy of stripping away the permanent police presence as shown by labour plans to close our police station. All the while lavishing millions on the upgrade of their central Birmingham HQ and keeping millions of pounds more in taxpayer’s money in reserves.
So people are rightly asking is the current Police and Crime Commissioner serving the interest of every community fairly or are they taking away resources from the Royal Town in order to fund the protection of spending to shore up his support in labour areas.
That is why I believe policing would be improved in the Royal Town by transferring the roles of the Commissioner to the Elected Mayor, currently Andy Street. This would provide opportunities including:
· Closer and more effective working between the Mayoral team and West Midlands Police in tackling social issues that can impact on crime and anti-social behaviour.
· A better working relationship with Government. The Mayor has brought in £1.7billion of Government funding since 2017. The Labour Commissioner has chosen simply to posture and criticise, rather than win the case for more resources.
· Identifying savings from things like offices and procurement that would be better used for frontline policing.
· Finally they would be clearly accountable. A single person that we know and can be held to account. The Mayor is more responsive to the needs of the Town – and willing to listen as he has shown with the Sprint consultation, rather than ploughing on with their own agenda, impervious to Sutton Coldfield’s interests.
I have also received an undertaking from Andy Street, our West Midlands Mayor, that if the two posts are combined and he is re-elected, it will enable him to review the absurd proposals to close down our police station.
We all have an opportunity to give our view on the merger. I hope you will join me and support the merger of the Mayoral and Commissioner roles here: www.wmca.org.uk/policeconsultation