The new West Midlands police commissioner has warned that ‘unfair and unjust’ government spending cuts could have a damaging long term impact on crimefighting in the region.
Up to 35 Police Community Support Officers and funding for a range of groups working with victims of crime, young offenders and drug addicts are all under threat.
And plans to end the forced retirement of A19 police officers, those with 30 years service, and begin recruitment of new officers for the first time in four years could be scrapped if cuts are as deep as feared.
Meanwhile commissioner Bob Jones says that other force areas, like Surrey, will be relatively unscathed in the Government’s latest spending review.
Mr Jones (Labour) has now launched a lobbying campaign to secure a fairer deal for West Midlands Police ahead of Chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement due on Wednesday December 5.
Cuts since 2011 have already taken £126 million from the budget, a reduction of about 20 per cent, leading to the loss of 2,200 staff, more than 1,000 of them police officers.
By comparison Surrey has lost 6 per cent of its budget.
He said: “If we get the wrong settlement from the Chancellor it will undoubtedly damage the long term prospects of the force. Even if we get out full grant entitlement, we would still be delivering bigger cuts than Surry.
“If there is no movement from the Chancellor then money currently being spent in the West Midlands will to areas like Surrey and that will mean we lose the equivalent of 35 PCSOs while Surrey gets funding for an additional six PCSOs.
“It’s been a long standing injustice that we haven’t received the money that the Government’s own formula says we should receive.”
He said that he was urging the councils and MPs of the West Midlands to lobby the Chancellor and Home Office furiously for a fairer deal.
Mr Jones was backed by Chief Constable Chris Sims who said this was a clear indication of the difference a police commissioner could make because as a non-political professional policing figure his own ability to lobby and campaign is limited.
He said that in common with many metropolitan areas the West Midlands has not received the funding due under the Government’s formula, where as other areas received more. “I would say that is grossly unfair,” he said.