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Policing

Part of Opposition Day — [9th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:25 pm on 4th November 2015.

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Photo of James Morris James Morris Conservative, Halesowen and Rowley Regis 4:25 pm, 4th November 2015

The hon. Gentleman knows that since 2010 crime has fallen across the west midlands by 17%. As I have just said, there have been some increases in crime such as domestic violence, which I think is a tribute to West Midlands police in encouraging people to report such crimes.

I welcome the Government’s plans to revise the funding formula. West Midlands police are a low council tax precept force and are dependent on Government grant to a large extent. One of the key criteria for the new funding formula is to take that challenge into account, so I look forward to seeing how the new formula will help West Midlands police with their funding settlement. There are big challenges for West Midlands police and I know that through the work they have done with Accenture they have carried out a comprehensive review of the future of policing in the west midlands and have mapped out some strategic priorities through a transformation plan. I support that work.

The West Midlands police and crime commissioner has made some decisions that have been characterised by short termism. They have been driven by a desire to generate political opposition rather than being taken in the long-term interest of West Midlands police. I would put the police station closure programme being considered by the police and crime commissioner, which includes the police station in Halesowen, in that category. It cannot be right that West Midlands police are spending £33 million on refurbishing their central base in Birmingham while proposing to embark on a closure programme across the west midlands and the black country that will probably deliver savings in the region of £3.5 million to £4 million. It is vital across the west midlands and the black country area, part of which I represent, that the police are not seen to be losing their footprint in local communities. The Halesowen chamber of trade has expressed concern, which I share, about the lack of police visibility in the town centre.