Commissioner Jamieson delivers New Year pledge to recruit 450 police officers
West Midlands Police will recruit 450 new officers by April 2017 despite the continued impact of Government grant cuts.
Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson issued a recruitment pledge in a New Year message.
Although the force budget has been cut by £130 million over the past five years – the highest in the country – Mr Jamieson said a move towards more efficient ways of working plus a slightly less severe financial settlement from the Government meant he could abandon a proposal to make police community support officers redundant and move ahead with plans to hire more police officers.
The commissioner added:
Government funding has never been far from the agenda. Following a concerted effort, we forced the Government to think again on funding. The cuts that we will face in future have reduced, but unfortunately not been eliminated.
We will still be doing more with less money. Driving efficiencies is therefore crucial so I can make sure that I am providing the chief constable with the resources he needs to keep the people of the West Midlands safe.
Noting that Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) rated West Midlands Police as outstanding for its efficiency programme, Mr Jamieson added:
I am proud of that recognition, but even prouder of what that means we are able to do as a result.
Because of the difficult decisions we have taken and efficiencies we are driving in areas like estates there will be no compulsory redundancies of PCSOs.
It is clear 2016 will again be a tough year, but I am confident that we can meet the challenges ahead. I am committed to recruiting police officers and deliver on the promise of recruiting 450 more officers by the end of the next financial year.
To support the public’s priorities of recruiting police officers and protecting PCSOs from redundancy, efficiencies will have to continue in other areas.
Mr Jamieson, who has been reselected to stand as the Labour party candidate at next year’s West Midlands PCC election, reflected on the past year:
I have met thousands of people, attended hundreds of engagements and visited every corner of the West Midlands.
West Midlands Police have dealt with numerous far right rallies, supported the national response to terrorism and continued to respond to other threats such as gun crime and knife crime. The reform of stop and search has been accelerated and disproportionality has been reduced dramatically – I want that reform to continue in future.
Other priorities for me in 2016 are working with the force to tackle gun and knife crime. The number of offences is much lower than it was a decade ago, but we cannot let-up in our pursuit of people who carry and trade illegal weapons.
Crime is changing not falling. West Midlands Police will have to continue to change to reflect that. Emerging threats such as cyber crime and hidden crimes such as child sexual exploitation requires us to work smarter and more collaboratively to keep the public safe. I will be holding the force to account to make sure that we are responding fully to those threats.
Partnership working is more important than ever and I look forward to strengthening our ties with local authorities, businesses and the third sector in the next year.
Mr Jamieson paid tribute to Chris Sims, who is retiring after six years as an “outstanding” chief constable, and said he was looking forward to working with Mr Sims’ successor, David Thompson.
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