6th Jul, 2022

PM must return lost £175m to West Midlands, says would-be police chief

THE WEST Midlands must be granted enough funding to replace the 2,000 police officers lost due to Tory ‘austerity’, a crime commissioner candidate and former MP says.

Prospective Labour Party Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mike O’Brien has written to new Conservative prime minister Boris Johnson urging him to return the £175million slashed from regional police budgets since 2010.

Mr O’Brien, one of four PCC candidates on a Labour party shortlist, welcomed Mr Johnson’s commitment to create 20,000 new police officers nationally.

But he warned it was by no means certain how many of the new bobbies would end up in the region or how long it would take to recruit and train them.

The former North Warwickshire MP served in a number of cabinet posts between 1992 to 2010 – and acted as an adviser to the Police Federation of England and Wales.

He recently visited Shirley Labour with the other three PCC candidates to discuss their commitments and priorities.

Mr O’Brien said: “If I become Police and Crime Commissioner, I will remind the Prime Minister week after week and month after month that he must give us back our money as a matter of urgency and not to let the West Midlands down.

“The longer we wait for our money back, the more crimes will be committed against local people.

“Mr Johnson claims now that he wants to invest in public services, but claims are subject to proof.

“My concern is that the West Midlands will not get its fair share of the promised 20,000 extra police officers and there is a clear danger many of the new bobbies will go to Tory-voting rural areas where crime rates are generally lower.

“I am also concerned that there will inevitably be a long lead-in time to recruit and properly train new officers before they can be deployed on the streets of our region.”

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Mr O’Brien said: “I ask you to commit as Prime Minister that your government will return the £175million taken off the West Midlands Police since 2010, which has caused cuts of 2,000 police officers.

“As officer numbers have fallen violent crime and burglary has risen and local people feel less safe.

“It’s urgent to cut crime rather than cutting the police.

“The warning is clear and it’s time to do something about it. Will you promise to act now?”

The other Labour candidates are Melanie Dudley, Simon Foster, and Yvonne Mosquito.

Conservatives say its public spending cuts were necessary to reduce the national deficit after the banking crash of 2008 under a Labour government.

Labour also went in to the 2010 election pledging to cut the national deficit – by about two-thirds of the Tory plan.

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