Po­lice chief calms fears

Solihull News - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID IR­WIN david. ir­win@ reach­plc. com

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

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