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Give contracts to local firms, PCC candidates urged

Give contracts to local firms, PCC candidates urged

🕔26.Sep 2012

The West Midlands’ first Police and Crime Commissioner must make sure the force buys a higher proportion of its supplies and services from local firms, business leaders are demanding.

Birmingham Chamber of Commerce believes the PCC should play an active role in supporting job creation and growth in the region by making sure that more of the £624 million police budget is re-invested in the local economy.

The demand is part of a manifesto for the PCC drawn up by the Chamber following consultation with hundreds of businesses in Birmingham and Solihull

Regionally-based firms should be encouraged to compete for West Midlands Police contracts and more should be done to promote open competition, according to the manifesto.

Only 13 per cent of local businesses currently provide supplies and services to the force.

The manifesto states: “Whilst the tendering process for police contracts needs to be fair to all more can be done to encourage regionally-based businesses to compete in the first place.

“With £79.9 million of West Midlands Police Force’s budget coming from their council tax requirement, it is essential that more is done to ensure a proportion of that money is reinvested in the local economy.”

However, the extent to which a commissioner could reward Birmingham firms with work is unclear. Procurement for major police force items, including vehicles and uniforms, is handled nationally by the Government and a PCC would be unable to intervene.

Unsuprisingly, tackling business-related crime is at the top of the Chamber’s agenda.

Describing businesses as “forgotten victims”, the Chamber claims that crime costs West Midlands firms more than £200,000 a day on average.

Almost one third of businesses said in a Chamber survey that they had been the victims of crime in the past 12 months. Three-quarters believed that firms would be put off from locating in an area perceived to suffer from a large number of offences.

“In order to attract and retain businesses, and therefore improve the local economy and create jobs, we need the elected PCC to be tough on business crime,” the manifesto states.

Half of businesses who had been the victims of crime did not bother to report incidents, with 64 per cent of survey respondents declaring they had no confidence in the police response.

Many businesses remain unaware of police crime-fighting projects.

Almost half of respondents were unaware of community safety initiatives in their area, while those who did know about the schemes had no idea whether they were effective.

The Chamber is urging the PCC to appoint an advisor to represent the views of the business community.

The manifesto was launched at the first West Midlands ‘hustings’ meeting, featuring six of the eight candidates for police commissioner – Matt Bennett (Con), Bill Etheridge (UKIP), Cath Hannon (Ind), Bob Jones (Lab), Ayoub Khan (Lib Dem) and Mike Rumble (Ind).

All of the speakers promised to make tackling business crime and anti-social behaviour priorities, as well as finding ways to make the police force more efficient.

Elections for police commissioners in England and Wales will be held on November 15.



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