The number of people contacting West Midlands Police for help is at an all-time high.
On 7th July this year the force received a staggering 3,276 emergency calls. That’s 40% higher than the average.
Of course, the force continues to get 999 calls it shouldn’t. Calls that aren’t the reporting of a crime in progress or a life or death emergency.
We’ve had people reporting a broken watch, a wife snoring loudly, and a teenager asking a call handler to contact his mum as he’d run out of phone credit.
But on their own these only account for a fraction of the increase in demand.
At the most serious end of the spectrum we’ve seen more people using guns and knives to settle disputes. Car crime is up too, as is burglary.
Traditionally, crime rises as the temperature picks up with more people out on the streets late at night. This summer has been exceptionally warm and crime has jumped.
The force’s Chief Constable, Dave Thompson, recently returned to the beat to help get on top of the situation.
But vexatious calls and a sustained sunny spell only tell part of the story.
In the last eight years we’ve seen sustained and continued cuts to public services across the board. Youth services have been reduced, mental health provision squeezed and drug and alcohol treatments axed.
With public services shrinking it has left the police picking up the pieces. Our ask of officers and staff is much greater than it once was.
On top of that West Midlands Police is now the smallest it has ever been. Its budget has been cut by more than £145 million since 2010 and the number of officers reduced by more than 2000.
I have warned that unless the force is properly funded crime will continue to rise. Now is the time for the government to act, before the situation gets any worse.
West Midlands PCC David Jamieson