More bobbies on beat a priority, says police chief
Getting more bobbies on the beat and tackling rural crime are top priorities according to West Mercia's Police and Crime Commissioner.
John Campion made the comments when he addressed members of Telford & Wrekin's full council, at The Place, Oakengates, on Thursday night and laid out his plans for the forthcoming year.
He told them funding had been secured from government for an additional 100 police officers who would be taking on front line duties and said the new recruits would take the number of officers working in the West Mercia and Warwickshire force area would past the 2,000 mark.
It was hoped the new officers would be in place this year.
He also told members of the council that parking enforcement would also be increased saying he was aware of problems and was hopeful of 'positive support' from the community in tackling the problem of anti-social parking.
Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, also at the meeting, said that in 1998 there had been 2,000 officers on the beat but this year the figure had dropped to 1,930.
"I am delighted there are going to be an extra 100 officers. There has been an increase in demand and this is the biggest issue we are facing right now.
"We have complex crimes, serious organised crimes, child sexual exploitation, County Lines, cyber crime human trafficking and modern day slavery. About 80 per cent of our calls are around vulnerability and mental health. Even though we have all that pressure our satisfaction rates are going up and that is a credit to us.
"We have got to look at how we police in Telford & Wrekin and in Shropshire. We have to make sure we put the local back into local policing, right back at the heart of our communities.
"We are very proud of our officers in Telford. We are strong, confident and compassionate."
Councillor Peter Scott asked Mr Campion to address concerns that the 101 phone line was a waste of time.
The commissioner replied that 101 is a non-emergency service which aims to help those with non-urgent issues.
"Demand has been rising for several months and we are struggling to meet that demand," he added. He said that if it was a non-emergency people can contact officers individually – and the numbers are readily available.
Councillor Miles Hoskin raised the topic of special constables and Chief Constable Bangham said the force could do more to utilise them.
He said: "We have got to look at further recruitment and we should do more."