Crime in Solihull – a few thoughts

In short, crime fluctuates and when it has reduced in the past few years I (and others) have counselled that crime patterns do rise and fall and that we should not get too excited.

For instance, between Nov 2013 and Nov 2016 : we saw highs in burglaries of just over 100 per month in Nov 2013 and falls to between 40 and 80 per month in the years in between, rising to just over 200 per month in Nov 2016. A similar pattern is shown in recorded vehicle crime (Item 8 of Performance report to Solihull Safer Partnership 24 Nov 2016) http://eservices.solihull.gov.uk/mgInternet/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=373&MId=5388&Ver=4

At about the same time of this report, The Police and Crime Commissioner published his Police and Crime Plan 2016 -2020 ( http://westmidlands-pcc.gov.uk   ). This plan has 7 Key Themes and included aims to reduce the crime rate to have a lower recorded crime rate than similar sized forces, as well as reduce burglary and robberies.

To claim the PCC and WMP have failed already is quite wrong. Similarly, it is quite wrong to blame the sudden rise (since autumn 2016) on reducing police budgets. The Home Office Police Gants for WMP in 2015/16 was £452.5m; in 2016/17 – £450.1m and 2017/18 is £444.1m. These are challenging reductions and although police numbers has a correlation on the numbers of crime we have seen recorded crime fall during a period of efficiency savings/cuts. Then why the sudden rise in the past 12/15 months?

Only in April 2015 WMP released crime data showing murder, burglaries and robbery had fallen (Domestic Abuse had increased – probably due to the focus on more reporting). Link here: http://www.itv.com/news/central/2015-04-23/new-west-midlands-crime-figures-released-by-police/

Again, we applauded this, but also pointed out that crime does fluctuate. The reduction is crime took place during a period of reduced budgets and proved (to some) that efficiencies could be made within police budgets.

I did raise this with the Police and Crime Commissioner at yesterdays West Midlands Police and Crime Panel ( link to webcast here: https://solihull.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/321023 ).If you view the webcast you will find that members of the panel questioned the PC about crimes in general 1hr 30mins into the recording)

I specifically raised the question of why crime is rising now and whether WMP knew the reason for this.

I have great confidence in the WMP to address the rise in crime. We have to accept that focus and resources need to be targeted at new, developing crimes and the threat of terrorism, but the recent Police and Crime Plan (2016-2020) had themes, aims and targets to be met. What action is to be taken to ensure the PCC and WMP meets its aspirations of the police and crime plan?

Having stated all this it is also important to recognise that some areas of a city or borough do have different crime stats to others. For example, even though some allege crime has increased dramatically (see local newspaper reports) we can deduce from http://www.ukcrimestats.com/Constituency/65879 that total crime in South Solihull reduced by as much as 99 crimes from 689 in September 2016 to 590 in September 2017.

Conclusion:

It is not just about money. It is about leadership and deployment of officers. I am personally not a great fan of having police officers on the streets for the sake of it – there has to be an aim, but is there a greater reduction in uniformed/front line policing compared to back office/support staff? Response and general uniform policing is a skill and has an expertise level equivalent to other branches, such as CID, Traffic, Firearms etc. The police service and public need to understand and appreciate this.

My thoughts are gathered from 30 years experience in West Midlands Police (mostly in the expert field of uniform response). I also possess a BA (Hons) in Police Studies. Lets not allow those who feel they have something to gain by spreading fear to make us feel unsafe. The police do a great job, always have and mostly in difficult circumstances.

I thought posting this in Blue seemed appropriate.


3 thoughts on “Crime in Solihull – a few thoughts

  1. Hi Ken,

    The first two links on your post (to mthe two PDF files) seem to require a sign-in to the SMBC Web Portal … so these are possibly not accessible to anyone not having that.

  2. Cheers Ken. Yes the occurrence of crime changes and develops. More crime today is on the Web, but there is still crime that affects local residents. The fact is that Solihull has a far thinner “blue line” today, whether it is the local neighbourhood teams, the ‘response’ team or others. Since November 2016 there are approximately eighty local officers, with one chief superintendent in command; ostensibly help can come from elsewhere if available or a “spike” in crime happens. Less resources means a poorer local service. I shall leave aside poor morale and WMP organization issues.

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