As you might expect, I hold regular meetings with each of the public bodies in Shropshire to keep up to date on local issues, and to offer feedback and comments provided to me by local constituents. So in this capacity I met recently Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for West Mercia, John Campion, to discuss his efforts to improve the effectiveness of policing across South Shropshire, and I am encouraged by some of the steps he has taken so far.
Investment in mobile working technology has been a strong step forward in allowing the police to spend more time out patrolling and less time travelling back to stations to undertake admin. Similarly, the delivery of body worn cameras – a key manifesto commitment – has both allowed greater evidence collecting powers for the police, but also more accountability to the public, which is welcome.
The decision to raise the police aspect of the local precept (equivalent to £7.58 to the annual bill in 2018/19 for a band D home) has allowed the protection of police officer numbers while recruitment continues into our local Safer Neighbourhood Teams. This rise is less than the maximum allowed increase in precept, as the PCC believes efficiencies can still be made, to avoid higher taxes at a time when family budgets are tight.
I am very pleased the response team for South Shropshire has returned to Ludlow, having previously been based in Leominster. Bridgnorth Police Station is co-locating with Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service at Bridgnorth Fire Station, as the existing building is not fit for purpose and not fully utilised. So this will allow its redevelopment, and return to use back in the community, with any saving going back into frontline policing.
Despite a recent upswing in crime (though the increase in West Mercia is less than the national picture), crime levels in West Mercia are broadly similar to those recorded in 2010. I am particularly encouraged latest figures reveal a 19% reduction in robbery in our area.
For context on latest crime figures, it is important to highlight the fact that we have become better at recording crime, and some crime is now more widely reported – such as incidences of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), which received much greater public prominence after the revelations of Operation Yewtree, and of course, more recent historical cases in Telford.
This national prominence has led to more victims feeling able quite properly to come forward and talk about their experiences, which is welcome. I am pleased that there will now be an inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Telford, and I commend the pressure brought to bear by my colleague Lucy Allan MP, which has helped shine a spotlight on the appalling prevalence in some areas of CSE both locally and nationally. Telford’s story shows this is not an issue confined to more urban parts of the country, but instead can be found on our own doorstep. So I welcome the inquiry.
Finally, effective community policing also takes account of local views. If you would like to make some suggestions to help improve policing in our area, please get in touch with the local Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion via firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing at
OPCC, West Mercia Police, Hindlip Hall, Worcester, WR3 8SP.