For years I have been telling the people of Solihull that government cuts to policing have gone too far.
That crime will continue to rise unless West Midlands Police is funded properly and able to replace some of the 2,000 officers it has lost thanks to huge budget cuts.
This week I am delighted to announce that I’ve been successful in obtaining £7.6 million of funding from the Home Office to reduce serious violent crime in our region.
There’s a catch, I’m afraid. It must be spent by April next year.
But at a time when the force has been shrinking for almost a decade, I’m grateful of some extra money to keep us all safe.
The cash will help our hard working police focus on reducing knife crime among young people. It will pay for more than 163 thousand policing hours during the first year.
As the fund has to spent by April, we can’t use it to replace some of the officers we’ve lost, but it will allow West Midlands Police to pay for existing officers to work extra time.
We will ensure this money is used to boost the region’s economy too – 75 brand new police staff investigators (PSIs) will be employed on one year contracts to investigate a range of crimes which will help allow neighbourhood policing teams to be more focussed on how they can work with communities to help prevent youth violence.
What’s more… a brand new Guardian Opportunities Fund will give young people ownership over a £100,000 pot which they can use to improve their own communities via local initiatives.
The allocation of the funding will be at the discretion of the young people themselves, but supported by professionals.
Nearly £1.5m will be used for a wide range of diversion, mediation, support and mentoring projects for young people.
West Midlands Police will concentrate on combating youth violence, whether that’s by making more arrests, managing offenders better, educating young people so they become aware of violent crime or by building the best case files possible to help secure convictions in court.
Whilst this money is a positive step, it should be put into context.
West Midlands Police has lost £175million since 2010.
This £7million boost is a small step, but long-term funding will have to be put in place if the government is serious about reducing violent crime.