Police chief calms fears
FEARS have been raised about a recent spate of crimes in some Solihull suburbs.
A public meeting heard concerns about car thefts and late night breakins in streets such as Welcombe Grove – a cul- de- sac in one of the borough’s most affluent neighbourhoods.
Issues were also raised about offending in Elmdon, Olton and Lyndon – previously identified as a burglary hotspot – during the Question Time- style event at Solihull College and University Centre.
Chief Supt Bas Javid, Solihull’s Police Commander and a member of the panel, stressed that the latest figures showed overall crime is now falling in the borough – which is unique in the West Midlands – although he said his team was committed to dealing with those areas experiencing problems.
Coun Joe Tildesley ( Con, St Alphege) said: “Never have we seen an increase, as we have seen in the last couple of years, in both Welcombe [ Grove] and Alderbrook Road.”
He cited an incident a few weeks ago in which a driver crashed into a lamppost in Alderbrook Road and fled.
“People rang 999, it took two hours for the police officers to get there, and the damage done to the lamppost – it’s the council that’s going to have to pick up the bill. Nothing’s been done. I’m sorry it’s just not acceptable.”
Another member of the audience from that area claimed that there had been more crime in the past six months than in the previous 20 years.
“I’m talking about car [ theft], breaking into houses, stealing, theft, it’s nearly a weekly occurrence,” he said. In fact, both neighbours each side of us have been done, neighbours opposite have been done. It’s just unbelievable. Can you tell me what you’re doing about it?”
Chief Supt Javid said that while the latest crime statistics for Solihull as a whole offered some encouragement, he acknowledged that these “gains” would not satisfy those residents experiencing crime in their street.
“The headline at the moment is that if you look across the whole of the West Midlands, this year, to date, the only borough that’s reducing crime is Solihull.
“We weren’t in that position last year... but that doesn’t mean there’s room for complacency. Where there are issues, and in the roads like you said, we can do more.”
He identified CCTV or the creation of Street Watch schemes as some of the options that could be considered to address concerns.
The Commander, who is the younger brother of the new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, was also asked about cuts in police funding.
Coun Laura McCarthy ( Lib Dem, Elmdon) said she was keen to get the perspective “on the front line.”
“As an organisation we have gone from 11,000 people to about 8,000 and that’s the reality in terms of the numbers,” he replied.
“When you work for an organisation where 85 per cent or thereabouts of your budget is spent on people and wages, you can only save so much by cutting back on petrol and paperclips.
“The flip side is that we’ve made massive efficiencies in lots of areas, particularly in those relating to our facilities and our equipment and the way we use our budgets.”
The Question Time event, which was also attended by representatives from Solihull Council and West Midlands Fire Service, is the latest in a series of events organised to discuss concerns about issues such as crime and public safety.
only‘ b‘ The orough that’s reducing crime is Solihull but that doesn’t mean there’s room for complacency. CHIEF SUPT BAS JAVID
Solihull’s Police Commander, Chief Supt Bas Javid