Foreword by Simon Foster, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner
Thank you for taking the time to read this document, which provides background information to the consultation on the next West Midlands Police and Crime Plan. I hope you will make your views known via the consultation. I pledged to be a "People and Communities Police and Crime Commissioner" and make engaging with, listening to and working with the public a key feature of my term in office. This consultation is key to West Midlands Police and the partnerships of which I am part.
Producing a Police and Crime Plan for 2021-2025 is one of my most important jobs as your Police and Crime Commissioner. The Plan will set out the objectives and priorities for West Midlands Police over that time, such as the commitment to see 450 officers from the Uplift deployed to community policing. It will also set out the commitments I will make with partner organisations. The Plan needs to reflect the priorities, needs and objectives of the people and communities of the West Midlands. That is why I want to hear from you. I want this consultation to be a truly accountable, participative and transparent process.
This document is based on my manifesto1, which I published before the election in May, the detailed public consultation we have already carried out to date and the briefings and meetings I have had with the Force, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, my new Strategic Policing and Crime Board and partner organisations. It also reflects my first meeting with the Police and Crime Panel, which supports and scrutinises my work. Frank and open discussions over the last two months have exposed many of the tough issues the Police and Crime Plan needs to tackle. It can be easy to focus on one issue, or one part of policing, but the Plan has to cover the totality of policing. That means it is necessary to balance many competing demands and recognise that not everything can be a priority.
The challenges facing policing, community safety, and the criminal justice system are not to be underestimated. They would be complex and difficult to solve, even if West Midlands Police and partner organisations were adequately and fairly funded. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The national formula for police funding, despite being over a decade old, has never been implemented by government. As a consequence, West Midlands Police loses out more than any other Force, receiving tens of millions of pounds a year less than the formula says we need. In any event, the existing national formula is now out of date and unfit for purpose, because it does not reflect the challenges and needs faced by policing in the West Midlands. We also have a policing precept, the share of Council Tax that goes to policing, that is much smaller than in every other force bar one. At one level this is welcome, but it also means West Midlands Police does not have the Officers and Staff that it needs to give you the service you are entitled to expect. There is no objective reason why our local income for policing should be so much lower than similar areas like Greater Manchester or Merseyside. I will be working with the Westminster government to address these problems. Other parts of the criminal justice system, and our community safety partners – notably local authorities – have also faced and continue to face severe budget challenges, with all of the adverse consequences that flow from that.
Despite this structural underfunding, West Midlands Police needs to be as efficient and effective as possible and make the best use of the funding it receives. This is my primary responsibility and in this document you can see the sorts of commitments and objectives I intend to set for the Chief Constable and the Force. Furthermore, despite the funding challenges, there is much that partners across the public, third and private sectors can do, working together, to address key objectives like supporting victims, reducing reoffending, promoting community safety and preventing
violence. This document sets out the areas where we will work together to agree and achieve shared goals and objectives. The document also sets out where West Midlands Police will work with other policing organisations collaboratively, not only to address the threats best dealt with at the regional and national level, but achieve higher efficiency and effectiveness too. It also sets out some of the issues where I will lobby others to achieve change. Finally, it talks about how I will undertake the role of Police and Crime Commissioner, ensuring that I am accountable to you, the public, and adhering to the highest standards of governance and transparency.
Despite the huge challenges ahead, and the many years of crippling austerity, I am optimistic and believe that a better world is possible. With a strong crime prevention agenda rooted in evidence, I will do all I can help create safer and happier communities, where people can achieve their potential, contribute and lead fulfilling lives. If we successfully cut crime, we also successfully prevent the huge economic costs of crime. Investing now in prevention from mental health to tackling domestic abuse, makes sound financial sense as well as being the right thing to do.
What will distinguish this Police and Crime Plan from those that have gone before, is that it will contain more information about how the objectives and commitments will be resourced, and how we will know if they have been achieved. This is about looking for outcomes, rather than just inputs, and there is no point making promises that cannot be kept.
I hope you find this document a useful summary of the key issues. I look forward to reading your responses.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner
View the full document below: