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A consultation has started on the future leadership of West Midlands Police from 2020 that will run until Friday 11 January 2019. The consultation will examine the principle of moving leadership of the police force from a directly elected Police and Crime Commissioner, to a Mayor with many other responsibilities.

The Police and Crime Commissioner is urging people to get involved and make their views known. Click here to get involved.

The Police and Crime Commissioner is responsible for strategic leadership of the force, setting the budget and appointing and dismissing the Chief Constable amongst many policing responsibilities.

The Commissioner has a decision making role in the merger process. He will be considering the consultation closely andwants the public and police service to be aware of some of the concerns and potential issues around merging the roles of the Police and Crime Commissioner and Mayor. 

Concerns include:

  • Insufficient attention being paid to the service and it being subordinate to transport and other responsibilities of the Mayor.
  • Insufficient protections for West Midlands Police service from being exposed to local government politics.
  • The Mayor has previously failed to pass his council tax precept through the Combined Authority Board. The current police precept raises around£100 million a year towards the force’s budget.
  • There is also a risk of funds intended solely for policing being diverted into other projects, as the Combined Authority’s finance lead will also be in charge of West Midlands Police’s budget.
  • The force will have new restrictions on its borrowing. Meaning essential investments could be blocked ahead of Coventry City of Culture and the Commonwealth Games.
  • The Combined Authority have already confirmed they believe there to be little scope for savings from the merger proposal.

Get involved with the consultation here.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has also raised some concerns on the potential merger:

“I’m deeply concerned that this plan, whilst harmless on the surface, could lead to financial chaos for West Midlands Police.

“I’m worried that funds intended for the police may end up being spent on Mayoral projects and that could lead to officer numbers falling even further.

“I also fear that the merger may cost more than current arrangements, as the Mayor’s salary will have to be inflated and the un-elected Deputy Mayor for Policing will be paid a large salary too.

“The leadership of our force is a full time job that requires a laser like focus. I’m worried that a Mayor with many other responsibilities won’t pay proper attention to the police and an un-elected Deputy Mayor won’t have the clout to challenge the police. With the cuts we’ve faced that’s a  profound concern.

“West Midlands Police has a smaller budget than Greater Manchester Police, but has more officers. That’s because of the efficiencies I’ve driven and the intensive work put in. A Mayor just won’t have the time to focus on our police.

“Policing is too important to be a part time job.

“I will almost certainly be retiring at the next election. This is not about me, it is about doing what is right for the police service and the public.

“I have many concerns and will be examining the consultation very closely as I make my final decision.” 

In March, after further consultation on the details of such a merger the Mayor of the West Midlands, local council leaders and Police and Crime Commissioner will all have to agree to any changes.

Get involved with the consultation and make your views known here.

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