Government cuts leave West Midlands Police struggling to fight crime

The force is facing a "tipping point", according to its commissioner

Deputy Political Editor

One of Britain’s largest police forces has been forced to raid its reserves to recruit extra officers, claiming cuts in government funding have left it struggling to cope with increasing crime levels.

Bob Jones, the police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands, who is to use the cash to hire an extra 450 officers, warned the force faced a “tipping-point” in its policing.

It has lost 1,300 officers in the last three years through the combined effects of redundancy and a recruitment freeze. It now has 7,440 officers and about 3,800 other staff, including Police Community Support Officers.

The West Midlands reported increased levels of crime last year, including a nine per cent rise in violent offences over the last year.

Under Mr Jones’s plans, a total of £60m would be taken from the force’s reserves over the next two years to bolster its annual budget of £550m.

It would go towards the recruitment of 250 officers next year and another 200 in 2015-16, as well as 100 civilian staff whose arrival would free up uniformed officers to patrol the streets.

Mr Jones is also recommending a rise in council tax of just over £3 a year to help tackle the manpower crisis.

Police numbers in England and Wales have dropped by 12,000 over the last three years to just below 130,000, the lowest total since 2002 and the head-count is expected to continue falling as budgets are squeezed.

Mr Jones, a Labour councillor, said West Midlands Police had arrived at a crucial moment in its history.

He claimed his force, the biggest apart from the Metropolitan Police, was the hardest-hit in the country under the formula for allocating money from Home Office budgets.

He said: “I believe a ‘tipping-point’ between reduced policing resources, as a result of reductions in Government grant, and the levels of crime and anti-social behaviour is in danger of being reached and action needs to be taken to redress the balance.”

The force had not recruited any new police men and women for three years and as result had no officer on its payroll below the age of 24, he said.

Mr Jones, a Labour councillor, added: “The problem with reserves is that you can only use it once. But hopefully it gives us some breathing space to try and deal with some of these wider issues, ways to use technology to enable us to work smarter in the future and hopefully getting a decent deal from government.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “How Police and Crime Commissioners use their funds – and that includes their reserves – is a matter for them.”

Mr Jones’s plans will go out to consultation over the next two months. They will need to be approved by the West Midland police and crime panel which oversees the Commissioner’s actions.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence