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14 May 2019
West Midlands Police is one of 18 forces worst affected by violent crime to be given a share of the final part of the £100 million fund allocated by the Government to tackle the knife crime crisis.
The Force will receive £7.62 million, the second highest amount behind the Met which will get £20.6 million.
Rich Cooke, chair of West Midlands Police Federation, has welcomed the funding but says the Government needs to do more than just come up with a ‘quick fix’.
“It is time the Government realised that it needs to invest in long-term solutions. The cuts to police funding have led not only to a massive reduction in police numbers but also to the closure of scores of police stations and police bases,” he explains.
“Those combined factors have meant that the visible policing presence our communities want, and need, has all but disappeared. In recent years, policing has been dominated by the need to save money and, inevitably, forces have had to prioritise what they deal with.
“Today, unless you report an incident which poses an immediate or significant threat, the likelihood is you won’t see us for days - if at all. That’s the lamentable truth, and no-one in policing is happy about it. The public miss that policing presence and the only people who benefit are the criminals, those intent on anti-social behaviour and those causing disturbances in our communities.”
In announcing the allocation of funding, Home Secretary Sajid Javid claims forces can take urgent action to tackle violent crime and put more officers into the worst affected areas.
The £100 million Serious Violence Fund was announced by the Government in the March Spring Statement. Around a third of the funding - £35 million - will support the setting up of violence reduction units (VRUs) and other preventative activity across the country. VRUs are a multi-agency approach bringing together police, health agencies, local government and community representatives to tackle violent crime and its underlying causes.
Another £1.6 million is being spent on ensuring forces collect better data to help their planning and ensure targeted action.
But Rich argues more still needs to be done.
“The Government must rethink its spending priorities and divert proper resources towards public safety. Budgets may be stretched but our citizens surely pay enough in tax to expect a police station in their own town and the occasional officer patrolling the streets,” he said.