Putting a West Midlands mayor in charge of policing could lead to lower crime rates, the region’s police and crime commissioner has predicted.
David Jamieson, the Commissioner for the West Midlands force, said the public would be safer if his job was abolished – and responsibilities given to a West Midlands mayor instead.
In a paper submitted to a Commons inquiry, he said combining the roles could allow a mayor to ensure police offered advice about the design of new shopping centres or housing estates, to “design out” crime.
He said: “This covers everything from reducing the risk of shoplifting to making crowded places less vulnerable to terrorist attack.”
And he said making the same person responsible for policing and public transport would help create “a public transport network that the public want and feel safe to use”.
A similar system already exists in London, where the mayor oversees policing and also heads the city’s transport authority .
Mr Jamieson, a former Labour MP and Transport Minister, made the comments in written evidence submitted to the Commons Local Government Committee, which is holding an inquiry into the Government’s Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill.
The Government has already agreed that a new mayor for Greater Manchester will have responsibility for policing, replacing the existing Police and Crime Commissioner in the region.
West Midlands councils are in the process of creating a combined authority and have said they are willing to agree to create a directly-elected mayor to lead it, in return for a major package of funding and new powers from central government. Mr Jamieson’s comments will do little to dampen speculation that he intends to stand for the post, should it be created.
Birmingham MP Liam Byrne urged the Government to hand powers to the West Midlands to become the country’s enterprise and engineering capital – but ask the government to show flexibility on demanding a mayor, as the Commons debated the Bill.
He highlighted figures showing the number of high-tech jobs has fell by more than 2,000 in the region between 2009 and 2013 – while high tech-jobs surged by over 35,000 in Greater Manchester and the wider north west.
And the Manchester combined authority area is seeing 20 per cent more new businesses open their doors than the West Midlands area, he said.