A POWER struggle has broken out between the West Midlands Mayor and the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).
This came after the Mayor, Andy Street, wrote a letter to the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, calling for her to start the process to transfer the PCC powers and functions to the Mayoralty – meaning that residents would elect the region’s first Mayor with PCC powers in 2024.
The Conservative Mayor said he acted because ‘crime in this region has more than doubled’ in the past eight years and he ‘simply cannot allow it any longer’.
Mr Street cited in his letter new powers the government holds under the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act, allowing it to transfer the powers of the PCC to elected Mayors.
He wrote: “Judging by the worrying increase in crime levels since the West Midlands has had a PCC in place, it is clear that the current PCC model is not holding West Midlands Police well enough to account to drive down crime and ensure people across the region feel safe.
“It has always been my belief that there should be one single point of accountability for residents in the region.
“Nevertheless I have concluded that enough is enough, and crime in the West Midlands has reached a point where something has to change.”
But the PCC, Simon Foster, said such a move would remove ‘people’s right to vote for a democratically elected PCC’.
In his own letter to Ms Braverman, the Labour PCC said residents should “decide for themselves who they want to represent them in connection with policing, crime, community safety and criminal justice”.
He added: “My one and only top priority is preventing, tackling and reducing crime. This will not be the Mayor’s one and only top priority, because of the wide range of other responsibilities that he has, including transport, housing and adult education.
“The Mayor will not actually in reality be fulfilling the functions of a PCC, because he will appoint an unelected friend, on the basis of political patronage, to fulfil the day-to-day functions of the PCC.
“A transfer of Policing Governance from the PCC to the Mayor will not be likely to improve the exercise of statutory functions in the area to which it relates.
“The Application should therefore be refused.”