Police forces in West Midlands 'unfairly hit' by cuts

image captionFront-line police services or specialist police work would be cut, Labour MP Richard Burden said

Police forces in the West Midlands region will be disproportionately hit by cuts, a group of MPs has claimed.

Following the Spending Review, West Midlands Police said it may have cut £123m by 2014 and up to 2,000 jobs.

Bob Ainsworth, Labour MP for Coventry, told a Commons debate that high crime areas like the West Midlands would be worst affected by the budget proposals.

James Morris, Halesowen and Rowley Regis Conservative MP, said the police authority agreed savings could be made.

He said the chief constable of West Midlands Police had also said he thought it was possible to deliver the same levels of neighbourhood policing in spite of the budget pressures.

'In it together?'

The special parliamentary debate was called by Jim Cunningham, Labour MP for Coventry South, who said the cuts would have a knock-on effect for other forces like Warwickshire Police too.

He said: "Warwickshire Police force often relies on the West Midlands Police force to come to their assistance.

"The West Midlands anti-terrorism squad would be involved in any potential terrorist activities so Warwickshire Police hasn't escaped this. It will have an impact on the police force in Warwickshire."

image captionPolicing minister Nick Herbert said cuts did not mean there would be an increase in crime

Bob Ainsworth, Labour MP for Coventry North East, said the cuts would leave high-crime areas worse off.

"The cuts have been structured in a such a way that the high-crime areas, with the West Midlands being one of them but by no means the only one, [are] disproportionately hit. I thought we were all in this together?"

Richard Burden, Labour MP for Northfield, said: "Something is going to have to go. It's going to be front-line services or the specialist work or it's going to be the police officers meeting with the community, who could possibly make the difference between success or less success."

Steve McCabe, Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, said he feared community policing work would be the first thing to go.

'Crime fell'

"Police work hard to engage with young people at a level that they engage and understand. This is something that the police have pioneered in the West Midlands, that will go.

"Social programmes which have seen officers working with youngsters in schools like Kings Heath Boys School, Highters Heath, Billesley and Hollywood Primary School - all of that will be lost."

Minister of state for policing Nick Herbert, Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs, said cuts did not necessarily mean an increase in crime.

"I have mentioned before the example of the New York Police which saw cuts in the total size of the police workforce of 10% in the last decade. Crime fell by over a third in the same period," he added.

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