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West Midlands Police Commissioner says public is losing confidence in force

Police are failing to reduce crime – and public confidence is plummeting, the region’s police boss claims.

Police Commissioner Bob Jones

Police are failing to reduce crime – and public confidence is plummeting, the region’s police boss claims.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones spoke out as plans emerged to scrap a controversial policy of forcing highly experienced police officers to retire to save money.

Mr Jones also questioned if his £100,000 per annum role should even exist.

In a damning ‘school report’ on his first year, Mr Jones said police and crime commissioners (PCCs) were failing to reduce crime, introducing ‘gimmicks’ which drained budgets, failing to cut through bureaucracy, and failing to engage with the public.

He said: “I stood on a platform of believing that while police accountability to the community was crucial, the Police and Crime Commissioner model was extremely risky.

“Both the local policing and crime boards and my cross-party strategic policing and crime board have tried to ensure accountability to the whole of the community, and not that accountability is in a single person.

“My strategy has been to mitigate the worst effects of the model and I believe I have made some progress.”

In his report Mr Jones gave the overall success of the post nationwide marks of four out of ten, saying that £100 million had been spent so far on making police accountability “less effective”.

Some areas were particularly criticised:

* Reducing Crime: 3/10. “Since April, when PCC’s plans and budgets came into effect, years of steady reduction in crime have ground to a halt. Crime has flat-lined across much of the country, and looks likely to rise in some areas. Most likely this is due to government policy rather than the impact of PCCs, but the Home Secretary’s only target is to reduce crime – and this is not happening.”

* Public confidence: 2/10. “With record low turnout at the election, record levels of hostile publicity, record numbers of investigations into PCCs and clashes between Chief Constables and PCCs etc, there is not much evidence that PCCs have led to more confidence in policing or the governance of policing.”

But in response police minister Damian Green said Mr Jones’ claims had “no basis in fact”.

Mr Green said: “The real picture shows that crime has fallen by more than ten per cent under this Government and for the first time, people have a proper say in local policing.

“Across the country, police and crime commissioners are driving reform and holding their forces to account. And it’s the public who’ll decide how well they’ve performed – at the ballot box.”

One factor hitting the force’s ability to detect crimes has been the loss of huge numbers of the most experienced officers under police regulation A19. Since March 2011 a total of 559 West Midland officers have been made to retire because they had reached 30 years of service.

Chief Constable Chris Sims has now said he is reviewing the policy as the force announced it needed to recruit 450 new officers.

Last month the Post revealed that so many police officers were heading for the exit that it was contributing to a £24 million force underspend on its budget.

Tom Cuddeford, from the West Midlands Police Federation, said stopping forced retirements would be a “win-win for everyone.”

He said: “Obviously it will mean the retention of very experienced officers, which can only be of benefit to the public, and with West Midlands Police recruiting over the next couple of years we’ll also have younger officers joining.”

The force said a full staff consultation about A19 would now take place, with a decision being made by December 3.

 
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