The Police and Crime Commissioner has come under fire from local residents and Meriden MP, Dame Caroline Spelman, following a spate of serious and violent crime in the villages of Solihull Borough which have seen a number of aggravated vehicle thefts and burglaries in recent weeks.
Solihull Rural Police team, which covers the area commonly referred to as the Meriden Gap saw police resources - including patrol cars, removed and redistributed to the city at the PCC’s most recent review of the region’s Strategic Crime Plan in 2016.
Meriden’s MP strongly objected to the proposals at the time, saying that the decision ‘would put significant pressure on the force to respond to multiple emergencies simultaneously’ and highlighted the difficulties officers would encounter trying to police such a large geographical area.
Following the sharp rise in aggravated crime, it is understood that Solihull Police are investigating the vehicle thefts as part of an inquiry into organised crime. In response to this news, Dame Caroline has raised a petition to get the resources restored.
The petition, which was published on her website on Friday has so far gained the support of almost 700 residents and calls on the PCC to ‘undertake urgent action to restore police resources to the rural areas of Solihull Borough in order to put a stop to the recent crime wave and to ensure that local residents receive swift and effective police support and protection in the community’.
On Friday, Chief Superintendent Bas Javid of Solihull Police told Dame Caroline that Solihull Rural have been awarded some temporary additional resources by the Chief Constable but whilst welcoming this decision, Dame Caroline said that Police resources must be restored to the same level they were before the PCC removed them in 2016 in order to provide ‘adequate’ police protection.
Dame Caroline Spelman said:
‘The type of crimes we have experienced in recent months are more common to cities than they are to small villages, which is why I am calling on the PCC to permanently restore the police resources taken away from the Solihull Rural team.
‘As Police and Crime Commissioner, Mr Jamieson must act to ensure that the needs of local residents are met and not just look to shrug off the very real concerns of local people by pointing the finger of blame. Communities want to see a long term solution.
‘Many of the people who have come to my surgery who have experienced crime or are living in fear of crime do not want to hear excuses about cuts to the police when it is well known that the West Midlands Force is one of the wealthiest in the country in terms of the reserves it has at its disposal. Indeed, the very purpose of these reserves is to deal with serious emergencies such as terrorism and to provide extra resources to address sharp rise in the type of crime we are currently experiencing in areas like Knowle and Hampton in Arden.
The MP added:
‘It’s obvious that when you fail to adequately resource police in rural areas that their ability to respond to crime would be reduced and I am dismayed by the apparent lack of contingency planning which is needed to address the crime wave we are seeing.’