'Indirect boost for Telford' as new police recruited across West Mercia
There will be more police on the beat throughout Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, West Mercia's chief constable has said.
Telford's police stations won’t get any of the new 115 officers being recruited next year after this month's announcement that the council tax police precept will rise.
But Chief Constable Anthony Bangham insisted new recruits at neighbouring stations will benefit the town indirectly.
Constables from Telford currently have to travel to stations throughout Shropshire to fill gaps in shifts there, but won’t have to once the new recruits are distributed, he said.
One hundred new officers were also announced last year and 40 of those will be coming to Shropshire and Telford in 2019.
“This is over and above the officers who are retiring as part of the normal officers, it is a real increase,”said Mr Bangham.
He told the West Mercia Police and Crime Panel that new recruits will join the Bridgnorth, Bromsgrove, Droitwich, Evesham, Ledbury, Ludlow, Market Drayton, Oswestry, Ross and Shrewsbury police stations, with “one or two” officers joining each of their five daily shifts.
“That is actually far more significant than you might think,” he said.
“If you are used to, as they are in our more rural areas, having two officers on a team, just one extra or two extra does give you some resilience and capacity.
“And in some areas there are currently nought. We’ve had to make difficult decisions. We’ve had no shifts there at all and they’ve had to come from neighbouring stations, so we are putting them back.
“Some of you may be looking at those towns and thinking, ‘Hold on, that doesn’t cover my area!’
“I just want to reassure you for some of those areas – Telford, for example – we know that the strain on the response teams there actually isn’t so much the volume of work in Telford itself, it is the fact that they spend considerable amounts of their time going to Bridgnorth, or covering Market Drayton, or even going across into Shrewsbury.
“So if you can protect the resources we currently have in Telford by having more officers in those areas, de facto, you end up having more officers to police the areas they should be in.”
The panel – which consists of councillors from throughout the force area – voted to approve the 2019-20 budget.
Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said the new officers would be in position as soon as possible.
“I don’t want to give you the impression that this is a long three-year plan,” he said.
“We will move fast to ensure the community get the benefit.”
By Alex Moore, Local Democracy Reporter