Merry Christmas and a Happy New year! I have recorded a separate Christmas message so I will not repeat it here. This blog is an end of year round up.
Ladies and gentlemen the West Midlands is THE PLACE! I am absolutely delighted to see Coventry named as 2021 City of Culture and just days later Birmingham announced as the Commonwealth Games City for 2022. This is simply huge for the region and for this force! This will generate jobs, investment and frankly give this region the profile it rightly deserves and inject a bit of swagger! I did a very large part of the Manchester Commonwealth Games operation in 2002 and can say it pulled the Greater Manchester region together and gave the city real profile. We get this twice with Coventry and Birmingham headlining.
There is a big challenge for us now to be games ready. That will mean a new dimension to our change programme to ensure we have the right facilities, technology and skills to deliver a massive and sustained security operation. It also means from this day on every negative story about the region will be framed against the backcloth. Projecting the region as it really is has started.
I can say without reservation it is going to be challenging but also fantastic.
As we celebrate these achievements and the season at this time of year very sad events have an added poignancy. The terrible accident in Birmingham on the 17th December was incredibly tragic. I offer my thanks and appreciation to all West Midlands Police staff who helped managed this incident and also key partners at West Midlands Fire and Ambulance Services. The severity of these incidents always shocks us and makes us realise the vulnerability of ourselves and our families.
It was particularly disappointing to see images from the scene shared on social media. In these terrible circumstances we try very hard to ensure family are always the first to know and I can think of nothing worse than seeing a loved one through images like this. The work is now ongoing with Collision Reconstruction, investigation and our FLOs at CMPG.
We also saw an officer stabbed at Erdington (we are not releasing his details). It was a reminder of the very real risk officers police officers take and I hope a swift recovery follows. A man is detained under the mental health act. We also have seen since the last blog the deaths of Franklyn Doras and Tracey Connell both deaths particularly upsetting and hard because of the time of year.
This week the DCC and I hit the streets together in a panda in West Brom! We did this without stabilisers or a back seat passenger. We had some tops tips and a phone a friend number. We dealt with fairly typical jobs: two domestics and a suicide.
In some ways the patrol was unquestionably a bit of a challenge to see if we could still do it. It is a while since PC Thompson hit the streets of Manchester and PC Rolfe at Bristol. The big reason was to have some live experience of a shift without an officer babysitting us.
When we go out on patrol you are all so quick in how you do the work we often don’t always have the experience of filling in the form or completing all the checks and so we decided we would give this a go.
We will be doing this together again. We will of course go out and work with officers but the experience of having to actually deal and do the paperwork was really useful. In some ways the job is just the same and I loved the people interaction even though a big part of the shift was actually very sad in dealing with a tragic death and delivering death messages.
The mobility kit is great and we need to keep rapid progress on its roll out. I also remind myself that the Insignia car we provide is unquestionably excellent for response work and quite exceeds what I see elsewhere.
The death process was very similar to what it was in the 1990s when I was working as a PC. The striking thing was the bureaucracy on simple domestic related cases and how wide we define this. I know we have asked you to do DASH and we have needed to improve our management of vulnerable cases but we both felt we have swung too far in the way we are doing this when there is no risk. The DCC is on it.
Finally this week was the police funding settlement. You are aware that I led on behalf of chiefs on our submissions to government. It was essential that policing’s strains were set out with vigour by chiefs and PCCs which happened this year.
The settlement is not fully what we asked for and what we felt policing needed, however it is a better settlement than last year.
Today the PCC has launched a public consultation on the police budget. The commissioner is asking people for their thoughts on a £12-a-year increase on the policing precept, which forms a part of your council tax, allowing the force to protect local policing and recruit officers. You can give your views on the level of police precept for 2018/19 by completing the online survey here. I really hope you will take part because your opinions do count.
2018 will see more talk from me on our ambition for policing, rather than funding.
I am excited for next year already. It’s going to be a step forward year with lots of ambition about preventing crime, protecting the public and helping those in need.