The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson said:
This budget provides some stability to West Midlands Police but sadly, once again, the government have failed to properly provide the force with the needed resources.
Since 2010, the spending power of the force has been reduced by £175m which has led to over 2,200 fewer officers on the streets as a result of government cuts. Even with an increase in the policing precept, the force still needs to find just under £10m in savings in 2020/21.
The police funding announcement from central government for 2020/21 has meant another real terms cut for the force and, whilst we welcome additional ringfenced funding to recruit more officers, we are in a position where we need to make more savings to be able to meet that recruitment requirement.
I am committed to increasing the number of police officers on our streets, in neighbourhoods and communities and responding to crimes. That is why I am pleased that as part of this budget, we are on our way to recruiting over 500 new police officers. This has been possible thanks to the wide-scale efficiency programme we have run over the past few years.
We continue to drive efficiencies, for which we have been commeneded by the independent inspectorate. We are cutting down on bureaucracy and giving officers the technology to do their job on the move, so they don’t have to come back to a police building unnecessarily. These efficiencies are helping officers spend more time in communities, where the public want them.
Due to the government delaying the funding settlement this year, I consulted with the public on a potential £24-a-year increase (for a band D property) on the policing precept. With hundreds of responses, over 70% of respondents said they would be happy to pay up to £24.
However, the government have said that the maximum increase can only be £10 (for a band D property) which will now mean there is a funding gap for the force to standstill.
This still means that people in the West Midlands will pay at least £60 less than those living in neighbouring forces of Staffordshire, Warwickshire and West Mercia.
Out of the government’s planned 20,000 uplift in officer numbers – based on today’s figures – West Midlands Police can expect around 1,200 officers over the next 3 years, despite having lost nearly double that number.
It should also be noted that whilst good quality policing is crucial to reducing crime, other services have a big role to play to. We need to see an increase in youth services and mental health services if the government are serious about tackling the root causes of crime too.#