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The Realities Of Policing In The West Midlands - Government Cuts Are Stopping Police From Doing Their Job

01/06/2017 16:24
Philippe Lissac/Godong via Getty Images

Since the horrific attack Manchester and the subsequent changes in the terrorist threat level our police have risen to the challenge. They have kept us safe and their increased presence in our towns and cities has reassured us all.

It was entirely correct that officers were deployed at transport hubs and in our town centres protecting potential targets. What is not right is that the police no longer have the resources to do that as well as police our neighbourhoods and react to all crimes when the public contact them.

This is not a criticism of our police, who are delivering in the most difficult of circumstances. Whilst the public, quite rightly, are running away from danger, police officers run towards it - we should never forget that.

They have been let down by a government who has tried to do policing on the cheap. Our police should have the resources to deter terrorists, police our neighbourhoods and react to crime. At the present moment that ability is severely stretched, with crucial elements of the British model of policing falling by the wayside.

I have been struck by three things in particular since theManchester attack. Firstly a huge sense public togetherness and defiance in the face of terror. Secondly the dedication and professionalism of our police and thirdly the huge strains and unenviable position that they have been placed in by this government.

West Midlands Police has been rated by the independent policing inspectorate as one of the only 'outstandingly efficient' police forces in the country. Meaning that we are putting resources where they are needed most - on the frontline.

Despite that the service is buckling under the strain. We have had real terms cuts of £140 million and 1,746 fewer police officers in the West Midlands since 2010, meaning that when there is a major public order deployment, or in this case a reaction to an act or terror, local policing is pretty much non-existent.

Shockingly, our ability to follow-up on crimes such as domestic violence has been hampered too. If a crime is in progress, the police will do all they can to get there in time. However, when reacting to the critical threat level, the police were not able to respond in the timeframe that the public would expect to crimes such as domestic violence that had already taken place.

Some victims of domestic violence were not getting a response from a police officer within a day. That can't be right.

We simply do not have enough people policing our streets. The police will always rise to challenge and do all they can to protect us, but we need a government that will give them the resources they need to do so.

It is absolutely right that they react to terror in the most robust of ways, it is not right that the blue line is so stretched that they were struggling to deal with other crimes too.

David Jamieson is the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner

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