Two million hours on the beat since force protected vital role

PCC In Kingstanding MECCA

Bobbies across the West Midlands are set to mark their two-millionth hour on the beat since the force cemented its commitment to local policing.

The Police and Crime Commissioner and Deputy Chief Constable moved to protect the "vital function" of neighbourhood policing during the force's major modernisation programme known as  WMP2020.

In November last year, the first phase of the ambitious programme went live. This included a new-look neighbourhood policing function, body-worn video for officers and more.

Since then, neighbourhood officers have spent two million hours preventing crime, protecting the public and helping those in need.

New teams were also created to free up officers on neighbourhoods, allowing them to continue their essential work - intervening early in local issues to prevent future harm - while Response colleagues were released from some time-consuming duties which allowed them to focus on helping people when they need it most.

At the same time, the force also invested in smartphones for officers to allow them secure access to information on the go. Before this, they would have had to return to a police station and log on to a computer. Thousands of hours on the beat are believed to have been saved thanks to the devices.

Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe is the lead for the force's major transformation programme, WMP2020. She explained: "Every area continues to have its local officers and, as promised, neighbourhood policing has been protected.

"Yes we had to move some people around but in addition to protecting the function, we protected the numbers of officers carrying out this vital role.

"Our investment in technology has freed up our people to spend more time tackling crime and less time returning to the station to update systems and complete paperwork.

"In the past neighbourhood teams have had to support other functions, for example backfilling Response roles or guarding crimes scenes but that is no more following the first phase of delivery under the WMP2020 programme and today marks a milestone since these vital changes.

"The creation of new teams, like Force Support, has afforded our local officers more time to focus on the important community work which sees us intervening early to prevent people from following a path into criminal behaviour, or indeed becoming a victim.

"This approach is also a public demonstration of our commitment to neighbourhood policing."

There are the equivalent of 1,376 full time officers assigned to neighbourhood policing supplemented by dozens of volunteer special constables. This week they will have amassed two million hours on the beat since November.

Over the same period 4,000 people applied to join the force during recruitment campaigns to enlist new PCs and police community support officers (PCSOs).

Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, David Jamieson, said: "We haven't just protected neighbourhood policing, we are strengthening it. By investing in new technology we are putting officers where the public want them - out on the streets, not filling in forms.

"To support neighbourhood policing we will recruit 800 police officers, 150 PCSOs and 200 specialist staff by 2020.

"The public want local policing to help solve issues in their neighbourhoods and that is what we are delivering."

Neighbourhood policing teams are the face of local policing. They are supported by emergency Response officers, detectives from CID and Public Protection, Traffic officers and thousands of other specialists who work around the clock to prevent crime, target offenders and protect local people.

The number of officers aligned to neighbourhoods is based on local crime levels and other data.

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