The top police officer in the West Midlands has pledged that his force will still “protect and serve” in spite of massive cuts.

Chief constable Chris Sims gave a robust defence of cuts in staff and police station front desks under questioning from Birmingham City councillors.

He was challenged over a £126 million police budget cut which will see a reduction of 2,500 police staff and officers in the next four years.

But the Chief Constable responded by telling councillors that crime was falling and insisted the force could ‘‘protect and serve’’ the people of the West Midlands despite severe financial pressures.

He said: “Crime is not going up. We are heading for the lowest level of crime the force has had in recent times. I know that is counter-intuitive given the economic and social situation but that is where we are.”

He explained that enquiry counters are of mainly ‘‘symbolic value’’ and many were only used ‘‘sporadically’’.

“We have more counters open 24 hours than any other police force.”

Mr Sims said the key aim was to reduce and prevent crime and that detection came second to that, a view is shared by Government.

“We have to make big savings and be intelligent about the way they are delivered,” he added.

He warned that a further upheaval facing the force is the introduction of an elected chief commissioner from November 2013, who will be directly accountable to the commissioner.