On May 13, 2021, I had the privilege and honour to become your democratically elected and directly accountable West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.
Given the level of public interest in policing, crime and criminal justice and the significant responsibilities that come with the role, it is important you have an opportunity to elect your Commissioner.
I take the trust and responsibility placed in me very seriously indeed. I was elected on a Manifesto that was titled: Justice, Safety and Security. It is my statutory duty to prepare a Police and Crime Plan. After a wide ranging and extensive consultation, I launched my Plan on November 1, 2021.
The Plan is a comprehensive agenda for change, development and progress in policing, rebuilding community policing, putting prevention at the heart of what we do and ultimately delivering justice, safety and security for the people of Solihull and the West Midlands.
Community policing is the bedrock of British policing. It embodies the principle of policing by consent on which policing in our country is built. Community police officers are our ‘Bobbies on the Beat’. I pledged to rebuild community policing, because over the past decade it had been dismantled as a consequence of ill advised, misconceived and poor decision making on the part of central government.
That was a big mistake, it was counter-productive and a false economy. We have all been paying the price. It had a serious adverse impact on police presence, response times, the conduct of investigations and the ability to prevent and tackle crime, to the detriment of the people of Solihull and the West Midlands. That is why I pledged to rebuild community policing.
We need preventative, proactive, problem solving, visible police officers. I am working with the Chief Constable to put 450 additional police officers into neighbourhood policing, to keep you, your family and local community safe – to strengthen the local bonds between the public and the police, so as to improve our ability to proactively solve local issues, before they become critical problems.
I am pleased to say we already have 211 of those officers in place, with a further 45 to be allocated imminently. That will amount to about 60 per cent of the target. It is my intention that Solihull will receive its fair share of the additional officers. My top priority will always be justice, safety and security for the people of Solihull and the West Midlands.
Simon Foster, West Midlands PCC