SOLIHULL MP Julian Knight has been accused by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner of deriding vital 999 staff from dealing with life and death situations.
PCC David Jamieson has hit back at claims Mr Knight made about plans to save £5 million a year by selling off 24 of the forces’ buildings, including Solihull Police station, in a bid to protect 100 officer posts across the force.
In a letter to Mr Jamieson six Conservative MPs from across the region called on the PCC to reconsider the “short-sighted and unnecessary” decision and pointed out that instead of investing the PCC chose to spend £10 million on back office staff.
Mr Jamieson said: “By calling specialist police staff ‘back office’ Julian Knight is deriding the work of people dealing with life and death situations on 999 calls, staff investigating child abuse and specialists keeping us safe from online crime.
“Specialist staff free up and support warranted police officers to catch criminals. I’m shocked that the Conservatives want more officers to be stuck behind desks.”
The MP letter also states instead of investing the force has £100 million ‘stashed’ in reserves.
The PCC said: “Julian and his colleagues know that by 2020 all non-essential reserves will be spent. Just to balance the budget we are having to spend tens of millions of pounds of reserves over the coming years.
“Our financial situation could be bleaker if these Conservative MPs continue to vote for extra cuts on top of the £145 million they have already inflicted on West Midlands Police.”
In the letter sent to Mr Jamieson the MPs said they had lobbied hard to secure ‘a better funding deal’ for West Midlands Police from Government and the force would recieve and extra £9.5million because of their work.
In response to this claim Mr Jamieson said: “These are crocodile tears from local Conservative MPs.
“West Midlands Police has suffered the biggest cuts in the country and now Tory MPs like Julian Knight who voted for those cuts recently are complaining about the consequences in their constituencies.
“West Midlands Police has been cut by £145 million since 2010 and just to standstill requires £22 million. Council tax increases will raise only £9.5 million.
“As a consequence of these cuts, the Chief Constable and I are having to make choices between maintaining buildings or putting police officers of the streets. Closing partially used buildings will save about 100 police officer posts.
“If MPs like Julian Knight are so concerned with the impact of police cuts, then he should have voted in parliament for more funding for West Midlands Police. He had the opportunity and failed to support the police and the safety of their constituents.”
Mr Jamieson called on Mr Knight and the other MPs to join him and local Councillors to help find alternative public sector buildings, such as fire stations and council offices for officers to be based from that will save money and protect much needed police officer posts.
A final decision will be made after the Strategic Policing and Crime Board meeting on March 20.
West Midlands Police told the Observer any Silhillians who want to have their say should email Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org