Shropshire Star

New police chief pledges to fight scourge of drugs

Shropshire's new chief constable said tackling the scourge of drugs would be one of her top priorities on taking up her new post.

Essex Police Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills. Photo: Essex Police

Pippa Mills, who succeeds Anthony Bangham as Chief Constable of West Mercia Police, also pledged to listen to the public and respond to their concerns.

Ms Mills, who had previously served with the Essex and Metropolitan forces, singled out drugs as one of the biggest causes of crime and misery, saying they had a devastating effect on those affected.

She said it was possible to win the battle with drug dealers, but said it could not be done by policing alone.

Ms Mills said that while taking out 'county lines' drugs gangs would be a priority, the war could not be done by policing alone. Problems also needed to be done to tackle social deprivation which often led to drug use in the first place.

Outlining her plans for the force during a visit to Shrewsbury, Ms Mills said she would be an accessible and visible leader, adding that she was hoping to regularly join officers on the beat.

She said her time spent in Essex had provided her with good preparation for the job in West Mercia, adding that many of the problems Shropshire faced were similar to those in Essex.

"Essex is 70 per cent rural, but has some very large metropolitan borders," she said.

"That is very similar to West Mercia, which also features some very large rural counties, but is bordered by the West Midlands and is close to Merseyside and Greater Manchester.

"I am very familiar in dealing with travelling crime issues, and can bring experience of policing in a rural community."

She said senior officers had been talking with friends of the late footballer Dalian Atkinson in an effort to rebuild confidence. Ex Aston Villa star Mr Atkinson died in 2016 after being struck by an officer's Taser during a disturbance at his father's house in Telford.

Ms Mills said she had just met 32 new officers who had joined the force, and said it was an exciting time to be taking the helm.

She said that making officers more visible in the community, and making it easier for the public to contact them with their concerns would be also be at the top of her priorities.