12:29pm Wednesday 10th April 2013
By James Connell
THE chief constable of West Mercia Police has welcomed a dramatic fall in crime but says it will be tougher to do the job in the future because of cuts.
Crime has been cut by a quarter across the West Mercia Police force area in six years.
Across West Mercia, which includes Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire, 60,627 crimes were recorded in 2012/13 compared with 81,347 in 2006/07, a decrease of 25.5 per cent.
In south Worcestershire there were 1,774 fewer crimes in 2012/13 than the previous year. Chief Constable David Shaw said: “I believe it can be maintained but it’s going to be much tougher.
“I’m not in the process of scaremongering but if we have another round of cuts it gets much harder but I’m not saying it’s impossible. I have to be realistic. I don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver. I’m not saying we’re approaching a cliff but it is going to get tough.”
As of April 1 last year, there were 2,250 police officer posts and 1,887 staff posts. As of April 1 2015 the target is to get to 2,024 police officer posts and 1,591 staff posts.
The changes will mean there are 522 fewer posts in West Mercia and 226 fewer police officer roles and 296 fewer staff jobs with the majority of officer posts going are of managerial level – inspector and above.
The Chief Constable said he was ‘very encouraged’ by the progress made tackling crime in spite of the cuts and he said he wanted to pay tribute to the force and also to the public and partners, including the probation service and local authorities who help dealing with ‘problematic individuals or families’.
He said one of the reasons the force and its partners had been successful was better management of offenders, what he called a combination of ‘iron fist and velvet glove’ in which the police were ‘gripping’ the problem of serious offenders far earlier rather than simply being reactive. This includes things such as drug testing of people released from prison, powers to recall offenders and better understanding of issues such as housing.
He said West Mercia Police now had a ‘strong clarity of purpose’ and what he called the ‘old-fashioned’ emphasis on policing as a vocation with pride in public service and a sense of duty. He said there were still “too many victims out there” in terms of domestic abuse which forms part of the violent crime.
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