West Midlands Police planning to save £5 million to protect officer numbers
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner is planning to
free-up £5 million a year to invest in improving police buildings
and protect 100 officer posts.
David Jamieson, who has seen his force's spending power shrink
by £145 million since 2010, is looking for new ways of protecting
the number of police officers and staff keeping us safe.
The plan, which has yet to be finalised, would see 24 police
properties, owned or occupied by the force, released. Many of the
buildings are under occupied.
Only two of the twenty four police buildings included in the
plans are open to the public. The other twenty two buildings are
solely used as a base for officers and staff.
No police building, currently open to the public, will close
without first being replaced by a more efficient one nearby. There
are currently ten public contact offices where people can raise
issues in person with the police. As a result of this proposed
strategy ten will remain.
A new Events Control Suite which is fit for modern policing and
ready to manage security around the Commonwealth Games will also be
built as part of these proposals.
Whilst disposing of police buildings is never an easy decision
to make, the PCC is confident this plan will improve efficiency and
ensure more officers are able to remain in post in the West
Midlands force area.
As part of the new estates strategy West Midlands Police would
share space in an initial four West Midlands Fire Service
buildings. Further plans to share buildings with other public
sector bodies, such local councils and the NHS are being developed
too. Whilst clearly this will help to reduce costs for the police
it will also help public services work better together.
The need for efficiency savings like this is sadly necessary.
Since 2010 West Midlands Police has lost over 3,000 staff and
officers. Emerging crime threats also demand policing continues to
adapt to the digital world and new investment is needed. To ensure
the force is fit for the future, this comprehensive review of the
police estate was undertaken. The review examined the space
required by the force. The identified savings will be ploughed back
into frontline policing to protect officer numbers or better
maintain other parts of the police estate.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson,
"After £145 million cuts since 2010 and with the level of
funding from government being squeezed year on year, I am having to
continue to find efficiencies to protect officer numbers. The £5
million annual savings proposed in this strategy will help protect
100 police officer posts.
"Crime is also changing and I need to ensure West Midlands
Police has an estate that is equipped to help officers and staff
respond to those crimes. Whilst the threats we face change, the
public still need access to their police. That is why these
proposals ensure that the current number of public contact offices
will be maintained.
"The Commonwealth Games coming to the region in 2022 will be a
great occasion, but it will also require a huge amount of planning
and improved facilities for West Midlands Police to help keep us
"The proposals in this strategy are not finalised. That is why I
have asked West Midlands Police commanders to talk and listen to
the thoughts of their local communities over the next month."
Commenting on the proposed estate strategy, Deputy Chief
Constable Louisa Rolfe said,
"Many of these sites have been part of the police estate for a
number of years and as such, we understand local communities may
feel a connection to specific buildings. However, most of our
buildings have high running costs, are poorly located and are not
fit for future operational purposes.
"The force's ambition as we move forward is to ensure a high
quality policing service to the people of the West Midlands.
"It's important to remember policing is about people not
buildings and it is vital we continue to question how much we
invest in our estate and continue to maximise the service we
provide to our communities.
"No police station will close until a new, more efficient public
contact office opens in the local area.
"The force has introduced the latest technology to officers to
help in the fight against crime and developed a mobile platform and
new apps which allow officers to work more dynamically on the
streets − saving them having to go back and forth to stations.
"The estates review has also seen the force make significant
investments in police buildings with a new Birmingham city centre
police station and Lloyd House refurbishment, two new custody
suites and refurbishment of Bloxwich police station in Walsall.
"If the proposals are given approval, a range of engagement
activity will take place over the coming month to ensure we share
the proposals with our local communities."
The Police and Crime Commissioner will discuss the proposals in
public at his Strategic Policing and Crime Board meeting on Tuesday
20th February. A final decision on the estates strategy
will be made after the Board meets on Tuesday 20th
March. Local police commanders will discuss the proposed changes
with their communities during a month long engagement period.
Minister Nick Hurd MP has recently praised West Midlands Police
for reducing the number of expensive Birmingham city centre leases
it maintains and saving money by increasing the capacity of the
force's HQ at Lloyd House, saying,
"Officers and staff in the West Midlands do an excellent job
keeping our communities safe and this refurbishment will not only
save money, but will also mean they will have an improved working
environment to carry out their vital duties."
Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has vowed to ensure
the sale of buildings benefits the wider community, saying,
"With the sale of each building, I will be asking West Midlands
Police to examine the benefits to the local community. I am
committed to ensuring that the police buildings sold as part of
this process create real social value, in addition to freeing up
money to protect police officer posts. Our region, like other
areas, is facing a housing crisis. I am keen that the
under-occupied police buildings can make a contribution to
addressing that, as well helping support employment and other