New Year message from the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson.

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This past year has been both challenging and exciting in doing my job of holding the Chief Constable to account on behalf of the 2.9 million people of the West Midlands. I thank all of those working in our police force for the courage and determination they have shown in keeping us safe over the past year.

Crime is changing not falling
Many issues have taken greater prominence such as domestic violence, child sexual exploitation and cybercrime. Following the ‘brexit’ vote in June there was an upward spike in hate related crime. Many of the ‘familiar’ issues such as violent attacks, anti-social behaviour and off-road bikers have continued to be the focus of our attention.

It is very clear to me that contrary to what government ministers are telling us, crime is not falling it is changing. It is also the case that we are dealing with crime with an ever decreasing budget, and the crimes we are facing are increasingly complex.

Continuing to drive efficiency
I am proud to say that the independent inspectors, HMIC, found that West Midlands Police ranked as ‘outstanding’ in efficiency. That is we are getting good value from every pound spent. During 2017, the drive for efficiency must continue if the public are to continue to receive a high quality service from our police. Our WMP2020 programme which changes the way the police operate, makes better use of new technology whilst continuing to focus on the value of neighbourhood policing, will help deliver those efficiencies and an improved service to the public.

Working together across the public sector
During the summer of 2016 the West Midlands had a sharp rise in unauthorised traveller camps throughout the area, causing alarm and distress to many residents. In February this year, I am calling together all of those who are involved with handling this issue which includes the police and local councils, as well as involving our MPs. A solution has to be found that is based on mutual respect – respect for the legal right to a traveller lifestyle and respect for the settled population who don’t want their lives disrupted and parks invaded.

Opportunities for the future
2017 will see the West Midlands elect a new mayor whose responsibilities will include economic development/jobs, new homes and transport. I look forward to working with the new mayor in particular to deliver joined up services to the public as well as refreshing our economy to create jobs and prosperity for all. I am also looking forward to working with the mayor to tackle mental ill health.

Ongoing challenges
The West Midlands needs to have big ambitions if it is to face the challenges of the next decade.

The threat from terrorism is ever present and it is of growing importance for people from all our diverse communities to work together with our police to defend our values of decency and fairness from those on both sides who seek to divide us.

Delivering on promises
During this coming year I will be continuing to deliver on my election promises of May 2016. I will put the needs of victims of crime first, defend neighbourhood policing, recruit 1,150 officers, PCSOs and staff to stabilise police numbers. I will give special attention to the needs of young people, deliver a safer more reliable road network, bring in new technology and increase the diversity of our police to make West Midlands Police look more like the people it serves.

As part of my commitment to young people a new West Midlands Cadet scheme will be launched later this year.

This is going to be an exciting year bringing many changes, but I am optimistic that our vibrant communities can meet the challenges ahead.

I wish everyone in the West Midlands a prosperous, successful and Happy New Year.

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