Dear Home Secretary/Policing Minister,
The people of the West Midlands have a right to expect that the government get the basics right. However, it is a matter of serious concern to me and the people of the West Midlands that, for the reasons set out in this letter, the government is failing to get the basics right.
Between 2010 and 2018, central government defunded West Midlands Police in the sum of £175 million, with the consequential loss of 2,221 police officers – 25% of our police officers – many hundreds of essential police staff, including 300 Police Community Support Officers and community policing was dismantled. The government’s strategy of austerity also led to the closure of over 600 police stations, across the country.
In addition, the government imposed reckless financial cuts on our essential preventative public services and our wider criminal justice system, with the consequence that our under-funded and over worked police service has been left to pick up the pieces.
The plain fact of the matter is that the government’s Police Grant Settlement does not maintain the baseline funding that West Midlands Police needs to operate on a day to day basis, to deliver an effective and efficient police service.
Consequences for the West Midlands
The people of the West Midlands have been paying the price because this has had, currently still does have and will continue to have, a serious adverse impact on West Midlands Police presence and visibility, response times, the conduct of investigations and the ability to prevent and tackle crime, all to the serious detriment of the people of the West Midlands.
Medium Term Financial Plan
The West Midlands Police Medium Term Financial Plan 2022/2023 to 2026/2027 is showing revised Potential Savings Required in the Financial Year 2023/2024 of £29.9 million, rising to £50.3 million in the Financial Year 2026/2027.
As a consequence of the need to deliver the so-called National Police Uplift and maintain police officer numbers, which is entirely right and proper, the reality for West Midlands Police is that these savings will have to be found from 40% of the West Midlands Police Budget.
I am deeply concerned that without adequate and fair funding for West Midlands Police, there is a risk that police officers will be compelled to backfill roles that do not need a warrant card, taking them off the streets and away from operational roles. There is also a further risk that investment in the police estate, fleet and IT will have to be further cut back.
The So-Called Uplift
As you will be well aware, the so-called National Police Uplift is no uplift at all, as far as West Midlands Police is concerned. At the conclusion of Year 3 of the Uplift, West Midlands Police will still have 1,000 fewer police officers than it did in 2010. There is no levelling up when it comes to our police officers in the West Midlands.
I remind myself that this is within the context of other police forces across the country now having more police officers than they have ever had before. With all due respect, many of those police forces do not carry the same level of threat, risk, demand, need and vulnerability that West Midlands Police does. That is an entirely perverse and irrational outcome.
The Funding Formula
We also have an unfair, national police funding formula that is manifestly unfit for purpose, the implementation of which disproportionately disadvantages West Midlands Police in the sum of around £40 million per year.
What the people of the West Midlands need
On behalf of the people of the West Midlands, I have three immediate requests for the new administration, all of which require urgent attention:
Firstly, it needs to face up to the acute financial challenges faced by West Midlands Police and step up with essential financial support, to ensure, amongst other matters, that the so-called Uplift is not wasted on putting police officers into roles where police powers are not required;
Secondly, it needs to level up and reinstate our 1,000 missing police officers; and
Thirdly, it needs to implement a fair funding formula for West Midlands Police.
All three of these requests are required so as to ensure justice, safety and security for the people, families and local communities of the West Midlands.
I repeat, the people of the West Midlands have a right to expect that the government get the basics right. However, it is a matter of serious concern to me and the people of the West Midlands that, for the reasons set out in this letter, the government is failing to get the basics right.
A positive response to the three requests in this letter, is your government’s opportunity to get the basics right and deliver for the people of the West Midlands.
I look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency.
West Midlands Police and Crime CommissionerBack to News Archive