Cuts-ravaged West Midlands Police has lost huge numbers of frontline officers – but the jobs of top cops have largely escaped the cuts.
Latest statistics show the force has seen key police constable roles slashed from 6,664 in April 2008 to 5,427 in April 2017 – a loss of 18 per cent.
Numbers of police community support officers (PCSOs) have also been dramatically slashed by 45 per cent in ten years, falling from 756 to 411.
The ranks of sergeants within West Midlands Police have also been badly hit, falling from 1,074 in 2008 to 926 last year (down 13 per cent).
Yet chief inspector roles have increased over the same period, rising from 55 To 67 (up 20 per cent), while superintendent posts have only dipped slightly from 41 to 39.
There have also been cuts to some senior roles.
Chief Superintendent posts dropped from 34 in 2008 to 19 in 2017 (down 44 per cent).
And Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) roles – the second most senior position in the force – fell from five to three during the same period.
The force currently has three ‘substantive’ ACCs and two temporary ones.
Richard Cooke, chairman of the West Midlands Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, says of the cuts breakdown: “It is difficult for me to say what’s behind that exactly.
“But it could be that the force’s moves to specialise in recent years has meant it has wanted more senior officers.
“One thing for sure is that we need more boots on the ground – more constables, sergeants and inspectors. To me, that’s what the public expects.
“And we would like to see the investment focused there, rather than on managerial ranks which the rank and file or the public rarely see.
“They are the ranks that provide the service to the public and make key decisions on a day-to-day basis. That’s not discounting officers above that – they clearly have an important role.”
Asked if he feels officers are being promoted through the ranks much more quickly than in past, he says: “People do seem to be being promoted a lot earlier.
“A lot of rank and file officers would say that’s all very well but what we need is experience, we’re so strapped at the moment.
“What we need are really experienced leaders with a proven track record. I wouldn’t want to criticise any individual but we certainly seem to be moving away to a culture in which there seems to be less expectation and less willingness to put the time in at that basic level to learn the profession.”
Birmingham and the West Midlands has seen huge rises in crime over the last year, including a projected 70 per cent increase in homicides, and an 18 per cent increase in violent crime.
Gun offences have rocketed by 15 per cent after the emergence of new younger, more violent, gangs across the city.
The West Midlands has also seen the biggest increase in knife crime outside of London, with killings rising from 13 in 2013/14 to 20 in the last year.
Despite the crimewave, the Birmingham Mail reported last month how West Midlands Police will have shut more than 100 stations across the region once its latest cost-cutting closure plan is completed.
Some 72 stations and beat offices have shut since 2010, including those in Aston, Bilston, Bordesley Green, Lozells, Sparkbrook and Tile Hill.
Another 24 are being closed over the next six years in a cost-cutting drive aimed at saving £5 million annually in running costs.
Police chiefs point out that 22 of these buildings are not open to the public and are currently used only as office space for staff.
WHAT WEST MIDLANDS POLICE SAID
“Just as policing has changed nationally for many forces, so have the roles within it.
"The requirement for command roles such as Chief Inspector has risen from 59 in 2008 to 63 in 2018 because of the enhanced operational and terrorism risk, as well as the increase on demand that the force has seen.
“Since 2008, we have created dedicated posts within the Counter Terrorism and Regional Organised Crime Units, where posts deliver both national and regional duties.
"We have dedicated Chief Inspectors who work 24/7 in an operational command role, overseeing policing for the whole force.
“The number of Chief Inspectors has also grown as demand on the force has increased for complex cases such as murders, investigations into sexual abuse and the safeguarding of vulnerable people.
"An increase in firearm operations, changes to the Bail Act and authorities relating to surveillance have meant that the requirement for dedicated command roles at the rank of Chief Inspector is greater."
The statement added: “Despite having 1,335 fewer police constables than we did in 2008, the independent policing inspectorate HMICFRS – Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services – has rated West Midlands Police as outstandingly efficient, meaning that resources are going to the frontline and being used to the best effect.
“In recent years we’ve re-opened our officer recruitment scheme and, since 2014, a total of 966 new PC recruits have joined us to replace officers lost through retirement or transfers.”