On Thursday a group of volunteer crimefighters from Shirley will make their way to Villa Park for my Outstanding Citizens Awards.
Shirley Street Watch, who have been shortlisted for the award, have been confronting drug dealers, recovering weapons from parks and patrolling streets. All in the name of reducing crime.
The group is comprised of 12 volunteers and they began their work in January. Since then they have spent hundreds of hours tackling anti-social behaviour and reassuring the community.
The volunteers don’t just help to tackle crime though, they also get involved with litter picks, return stolen trolleys to supermarkets and call on the council to fix problems such as broken bollards, fly tipping and unlocked park gates.
For safety, patrols are conducted in pairs and the Shirley team work most days of the week. Members of the public have given high praise to the group for the work they do keeping the area safe and I wholeheartedly agree.
I can’t stress enough how important groups like this are for Shirley and indeed right across the West Midlands. They are an example to us all. They put themselves out for the good of the community. Many of them do this on top of their day jobs in order to make a difference. What is all the more remarkable is just twelve months ago they didn’t know each other and now they are a highly successful force for change.
In our ongoing battle to cut crime we need outstanding people. We need individuals who are prepared to stick their head above the parapet. To give up their time to make their areas safer and better places to live.
It’s well documented that West Midlands Police doesn’t have the number of officers it once did. After having its budget squeezed by central government to the tune of £145 million and losing 2,100 officers the force is increasingly being stretched. That’s why groups like these, who act as the eyes and ears for West Midlands Police, are invaluable. Whilst never replacing the police they are able to flag up problems at an early stage so officers can deal with them more quickly. I would like to place on record my thanks to them all.
Shirley Street Watch won’t be alone at Thursday’s award ceremony though. The Outstanding Citizens Awards will see 11 individuals or community groups given the recognition they all deserve.
PCC David Jamieson