1. I will fight for more resources for our local police
West Midlands Police have had £145 million cut from their budget since 2010. There are now less police on the beat than in 1974 when West Midlands Police was formed. Specialist officers from the West Midlands are regularly redeployed around the country to support colleagues in counter-terrorism and serious crime incidents and over 700 officers from West Midlands Police are currently on long-term sick or stress leave.
These are the highest cuts faced by any force in the whole UK – five times the amount taking place in leafy Surrey. The end result of this process is obvious – crime is going to increase in across Bartley Green, Edgbaston, Harborne and Quinton. Official statistics tell us that crime is going down in our local area – we know as residents that this is simply not true. Too many crimes are going unreported because residents are frustrated and exasperated that the Police simply do not have the resources to help them.
With inflation rising the costs of everything the Police use, from uniform to computers, is going up. In order to just stand still and pay their current bills, the Police need another £18 million. I wrote to the Home Secretary in September to ask her to do this find this funding to give our Police the tools they need to do their jobs. I will keep up the pressure and relentlessly champion this need in my work as your MP.
To raise these concerns is not to pass the buck. If WMP do not simply have the resources to allow Officers to spend time investigating and addressing crime, it’s our homes, streets and communities which become easier targets for those involved in crime. If we don’t feel safe to go about our lives and our business, little else matters – the Government need to recognise this.
2. I will make sure the community has a say in and how and where resources are deployed
When it comes to deciding how and where police resources should be deployed in the local area, I believe that this should be a decision made between the Police and the community. Local residents are your best source of crime prevention - your observations, your ideas and your knowledge of your area need to be used in making our streets safer.
Over 2018, I am committing to four open meetings on crime across our constituency, which I will ask both local police and the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner to attend. During the first quarter of 2018, I will hold two public meetings on crime – one to address issues in Bartley Green and Quinton and another to look at concerns in Edgbaston and Harborne.
I will then repeat this process during the last quarter of the year. At this meeting, I want you to hold both me and the police to account on the actions we agreed at the first meeting. I will keep you informed as to the progress we are making together in the meantime.
3. I will work with local organisations to support community-based responses to crime
Across Bartley Green, Edgbaston, Harborne and Quinton we are lucky to have brilliant community organisations working to support and enrich our communities. From the food bank at St Boniface Church to the Calthorpe Residents Association, passionate teams of volunteers work to make Edgbaston constituency a better place, simply because they care.
I want to work with these organisations, local police and residents in order to create the solutions to crime which communities feel will work. In Edgbaston, local residents are working with the police to set up neighbourhood watch schemes. As your Member of Parliament, I will work to support these efforts in any way I can, whether that’s facilitating meetings, fighting for funding or making sure that the Police communicate and work constructively with these groups. If you are interested in forming or joining a neighbourhood watch in your local area, let me know by completing my Crime Consultation – LINK/email address here.
I will also work to support Edgbaston residents to apply for the Active Citizens Fund – a pot of money provided by the Police and Crime Commissioner to support local community solutions to crime.
I also want to make sure that other organisations in our constituency are involved in these efforts. I have recently met with the Harborne Business Association to discuss how we can address the rise in crime taking place on Harborne High Street. I have also met with the Chief Executive of the Calthorpe Estate to discuss how an organisation with a such a significant stake in Edgbaston can contribute towards making it a safer and even better place to live.
4. I will develop new ways for crime in Edgbaston to be highlighted and reported
One of the most worrying aspects of the current situation is that constituents increasingly tell me that they do not always report crimes which they witness or fall victim to. At one surgery recently, one circle of family and friends explained that they were victims of crime twice in a matter of days.
The first was an unprovoked attack of an elderly relative on Augustus Road – the victim had her grandson in a pushchair next to her. This was reported to the Police, who said that they probably wouldn’t have the time and resource to follow it up. The second involved a car slowing down on Harborne Road to shout racist abuse out of the window, before speeding off. One this second occasion, the victim was too frustrated by their previous experience to report it to the Police.
Recently, the Friends of Senneleys Park organisation in Bartley Green reported to me that they had come changing rooms facilities broken into by a group of twelve young people. The volunteers called the police four times on their 101 number. On each occasion, they were told that a police officer would come out to respond whenever one was available. In the end, no police officers arrived and the volunteers had to stand and listen to their facility being vandalised and destroyed.
If this trend continues and real and genuine crime passes unnoticed and unpunished by the Police, the only people who benefit are criminals. I want to work with you to make sure this doesn’t happen by setting up the Edgbaston Crime Map. If you witness a crime, I want you to email my office at email@example.com. We will be in touch to ask for more details about the incident and we will add it onto our Map.
This facility will allow us to work with the Police to map pockets of crime and address localised patterns and trends.