Last week I received an update with the latest figures for police officer recruitment across West Mercia.
The 2019 Conservative manifesto set out plans to get 20,000 more police officers on the streets by 2023, and so delivering more officers in West Mercia is a key part of that plan. Our Police and Crime Commissioner, John Campion, has been very supportive in prioritising recruitment of more officers, and this is now bearing fruit.
Since 2019, 197 new officers have joined West Mercia Police, taking the total number of officers up to 2,371. Across the 43 police forces across England and Wales, an additional 13,576 officers have been recruited, bringing the total number of police officers to 142,526. This puts the government on track to deliver its manifesto commitment, with 68 per cent of the target now met.
This recruitment drive builds on action already taken by the government since 2019, including boosting police funding to a record £15.8 billion, and delivering £70 million through the Safer Streets Fund to make neighbourhoods secure.
I routinely discuss policing issues with our local Police Inspector, and recently discussed actions West Mercia Police are taking to reduce crime rates and show a more visible presence in the community, with some additional police resource coming to South Shropshire.
It is also important that alongside effective policing, the public also has confidence in our judicial system. The pandemic has undoubtedly caused a backlog in the justice system, so this weekend, the government announced plans to allow magistrates to issue sentences of up to 12 months for a single offence, up from 6 months, instead of sending them on to a judge - allowing Crown Courts to focus resources on more serious and complicated cases by freeing up 1,700 extra days of Crown Court time.
With Parliament proroguing last week ahead of the Queen’s Speech on 10th May, one of the last pieces of legislation to be passed in this session was the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act.
This Act equips the police with the powers they need to protect themselves and the public, toughens sentencing laws to keep serious sexual and violent offenders behind bars for longer, and places greater emphasis on rehabilitation to help offenders better to turn their lives around and avoid relapsing into crime.
The pandemic led to less crime being reported in Shropshire, although an increase in domestic abuse. These latest measures will help fight crime, as the government delivers on its commitment to keep our streets safe.