By Ian Dipple Thursday 18 October 2012 Updated: 23/10 15:18
PUTTING more bobbies on the beat has been singled out as the key priority for one of the men hoping to become the new police and crime commissioner for West Mercia.
Dr Simon Murphy, the Labour Party candidate and one of three so far to have put their name forward, visited Redditch on Wednesday (October 17) to talk to staff at Your Ideas in Matchborough, a community group which provides positive activities for young people to channel their energy into.
The former Euro MP was also in the town centre on Saturday and it is one of several trips he will make to Redditch ahead of the November 15 poll. Police and crime commissioners are a new role created by the Government and will be directly elected by the public. They will have the power to hire and fire the chief constable, set the policing budget and priorities for the force.
Dr Murphy told the Standard it was clear from speaking to people in Redditch what they wanted was more police on the streets and his top priority would be to increase the number of officers and CSOs (Community Support Officers).
"People in Redditch want to see more police and police they can get to know and the police themselves want to be in and part of communities because that’s the best way to prevent crime. We’re not just talking about catching criminals here, we want to prevent crime as it’s a lot cheaper and a lot more effective to stop it happening in the first place," he said.
"Finding the money for that is not straightforward, it won’t be easy but there are things we can look at in terms of how the money is currently spent, how the buildings the police use are used, there are ways and means of getting other people to share those to generate some money. There’s also a strong case to look at the mobile technology we support our police and CSOs with so they can stay on the beat longer."
He also pledged to fight government cuts which had resulted in the loss of 200 officers across West Mercia since 2010 and 820 police and police officer jobs by 2015.
"As a commissioner for Redditch I would see my job as to fight those cuts and not be a cheerleader for them as the Conservative candidate would."
The new commissioner will also have more responsibility for granting funding to projects to prevent crime and disorder and Dr Murphy said supporting groups like Your Ideas was key.
“Having charities like Your Ideas working with the police, the local authority but most importantly young people in the area of Matchborough is a very good way of making sure they don’t get tempted into crime or have different things to do."
The deadline for nominations for the new commissioner role is 12noon today (Friday). As the Standard went to press two other candidates had put their name forward. Adrian Blackshaw for the Conservatives and Bill Longmore, an independent candidate and former police officer. A full profile of all candidates will be published in next week’s paper.
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