Recruiting more Police Officers is a top priority - New Year’s message from the West Midlands PCC

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has issued a New Year's message as he looks forward to 2016 and reflects on the challenges and successes of a busy 2015. Amongst the Commissioner's top priorities is recruiting Police Officers. By the end of the next financial year he is committed to delivering on his promise of recruiting 450 new officers.

New Year's message from the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson:

2015 has been a very busy year for policing in the West Midlands and 2016 will be equally as challenging, but I am confident in West Midlands Police's ability to meet those challenges.

Over the last year I have met thousands of people, attended hundreds of engagements and visited every corner of the West Midlands.

West Midlands Police have dealt with numerous far right rallies, supported the national response to terrorism and continued to respond to other threats such as gun crime and knife crime. The reform of stop and search has been accelerated and disproportionality has been reduced dramatically - I want that reform to continue in future.

Whilst dealing with these important issues government funding has never been far from the agenda. Over the last five years we have faced around £130million cuts - the biggest of any force in the country. Following a concerted effort, we forced the government to think again on funding. The cuts that we will face in future have reduced, but unfortunately not been eliminated.

We will still be doing more with less money. Driving efficiencies is therefore crucial so I can make sure that I am providing the Chief Constable with the resources he needs to keep the people of the West Midlands safe.

As a result of the efficiencies we have driven, HMIC (Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary) rated West Midlands Police as one of only five 'outstanding' forces. I am proud of that recognition, but even prouder of what that means we are able to do as a result. Because of the difficult decisions we have taken and efficiencies we are driving in areas like estates there will be no compulsory redundancies of PCSOs.

2016 will again be a tough year, but I am confident that we can meet the challenges ahead. I am committed to recruiting Police Officers and deliver on the promise of recruiting 450 more officers by the end of the next financial year. To support the public's priorities of recruiting Police Officers and protecting PCSOs from redundancy, efficiencies will have to continue in other areas.

Other priorities for me in 2016 are working with the force to tackle gun and knife crime. The number of offences are much lower than they were a decade ago, but we cannot let-up in our pursuit of people who carry and trade illegal weapons.

Crime is changing not falling. West Midlands Police will have to continue to change to reflect that. Emerging threats such as cyber-crime and hidden crimes such as child sexual exploitation require us to work smarter and more collaboratively to keep the public safe. I will be holding the force to account to make sure that we are responding fully to those threats.

Partnership working is more important than ever and I look forward to strengthening our ties with local authorities, businesses and the third sector in the next year.

I would also like to pay tribute to Chris Sims who has been an outstanding Chief Constable over the last six years and look forward to working closely with David Thompson who will begin the role in January.

On a final note, I would like to thank all of our excellent officers and PCSOs for their hard work, dedication and courage. I would also like to pay tribute to our police staff without whom we would not be able to fight crime and keep the West Midlands safe.