Stourbridge News Column, 21st February 2019

Stourbridge News Column – Thursday 21st February

During recent months, many constituents have written to me expressing their concern about a rise in serious thefts and burglaries in Stourbridge, particularly in Pedmore and Norton.

Police have tried to provide reassurance that serious crime in these areas are lower than elsewhere in the Borough, however, it is concerning to see a growing number of similar violent burglaries and thefts.

There are fewer police in Stourbridge than there used to be. It may be that the decision to divert more police to areas in the Borough with significantly greater levels of crime than Stourbridge, was a step too far. I spoke to the Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, last week, to lobby for a rebalancing of funds to Stourbridge during his next financial review. I will also meet Chief Superintendent Sally Bourner next Friday, to talk about what further action can be taken.

The police here need more resources, and I think that the Home Secretary is winning that argument, with more money announced for the 2019/20 funding settlement – almost £1bn in fact, and a 4.4% increase in real terms for West Midlands Police. I support efforts being made to secure more money from the Treasury during the review of public spending coming up this year, and I know that Ministers are listening and willing to invest in police capacity.

Residents want to bring a police station back to Stourbridge. There have been efforts to get a presence back in the town centre, but they have so far not been successful. I have raised this with the police a number of times, and I have been told repeatedly that they can just as effectively lead police operations in Stourbridge from the main station in Brierley Hill. The point, I believe, is that we need more police, not more police stations.

Just as social media has enabled many other endeavours to operate more effectively online – like travel, retail or hospitality – it has also increased the trade of illegal drugs. I know from my attendance of the Government’s Serious Violence Taskforce, and my conversations with police leaders, that the rise in violent crime is directly linked to the drugs trade. Social media has allowed criminals to access areas that they could never previously reach. We must tackle these issues, because it is far more complex than putting more police on the streets.

I want to end by paying tribute to former Council leader and Honorary Alderman Jack Edmonds OBE, who has passed away. Jack was a Stourbridge stalwart who was a Councillor in Norton for many years. He will be greatly missed, and my thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.

As always, you can also email any questions or concerns about this article, or indeed anything else, to margot.james.mp@parliament.uk and my team and I will do our best to help.