One of my priorities as the local Member of Parliament is to ensure that our local area becomes a safer and a cleaner place to live in, work, and visit. As readers of this blog will know, I recently undertook a community conversations survey. In this survey, constituents provided feedback on how safe they feel in their local area.
I was glad to learn that just over fifty per cent of respondents reported that they had not witnessed crime or anti-social behaviour when COVID-19 restrictions were partially lifted between September and December. At the same time, many constituents told me that they continue to worry about anti-social behaviour and theft/burglaries. I want to be clear: these crimes are completely unacceptable and I will do everything I can to help tackle it.
As an MP and as a resident, I want to do what I can to enhance community safety. It is for this reason that I have launched my safer neighbourhoods campaign. This consists of three elements: consultation, information, and action.
My community safety survey seeks feedback from constituents on what more can be done when it comes to dealing with crime and anti-social behaviour. I want to learn more about the level and types of crimes committed, the impact that it has on our area, and what changes our local people would like to see. This survey will be running for a few months and I hope that as many constituents as possible will take part. I have specifically designed this survey so that it just takes a few minutes to complete and is easy to access. I have already committed to publishing the results of this survey and sharing it with key partners such as the Police.
There are a few simple steps that we can all take on this subject. Most importantly, we need to be vigilant, know how to report crime, and know who we can turn to if we need any additional support. To do this, I am writing to members of our community to make them aware of useful contact details, such as Victim Support, Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline, and Crimestoppers. I have published the contact details for these agencies and many others on my website here. I have also designed a community safety card that constituents can put in their windows to let any visitors know that they will need to identify who they are if they turn up on a constituent’s doorstep without any prior appointment. It also prompts constituents to stop, lock, and check the caller’s ID. You can download it from this webpage.
In addition to the practical steps that we can take as mentioned above, I know that there are important things that individual MPs and the Government can do to tackle crime and build safer communities. I receive regular updates from the Chief Superintendent of the West Midlands Police and my office and I regularly attend PACT (Partners and Communities Together) meetings with residents where these issues are explored in greater detail. In addition, my office and I continue to help constituents with any specific issues, working with key partners in this area.
I am also pleased that the Government has outlined its plans to invest more than £15 billion in police forces over the next year. The West Midlands Police is due to receive up to an additional £35 million as part of this. This crucial funding will allow us to continue to work on our manifesto pledge to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers - an issue which most of the respondents to my community conversations survey thought was most important. Almost 6,000 officers have been trained across the country. More than 200 have joined the West Midlands Police. As we recover from COVID-19, this support from the Government gives us a strong basis on which we can build back safer.