By Erdington Local election news team
Paulette Hamilton, the Labour Party candidate in the upcoming Erdington by-election and current local councillor for Holyhead, has declared: “I’ll be fighting for community policing.”
“I would be fighting to go back to neighbourhood policing – the police knew the young people, they knew the families, they knew what was going on, and they worked with the partners. All of that has died in the last ten years.
“What is now happening is everything is frontline services, and they’ve (Conservative government) forgotten the soft work that was going on during the last Labour government which helped to actually alleviate some of the difficulties we are now having.
“For me, as a local MP, the thing I’ll be fighting for is community policing, community policing, community policing… because that’s what we need right now”
Having spent the morning visiting the YMCA in Sutton Coldfield and local hotspots in Kingstanding, talking with social workers and those on the ground supporting young people across the constituency, Paulette Hamilton was also keen to highlight the work undertaken by young carers – many of whom provide essential support for their own families.
She added: “I do think we need to do more for young carers, especially as they start to go to school – because many of our young carers, before they actually get to school, they’re doing a day’s work.
“Sometimes they go to school, and I’m not saying all of them, but they could be hungry, they’ve not spoken to anyone, they’ve not had time to do their homework. They’ve just not had the support they need.
“I have dealt with young people for many years; we cannot do things for them, without them.
“I think the strong message is a large number of young people out there, including areas like this (Kingstanding), they are suffering. What I believe needs to happen is we start to listen more, and to act on what they are saying.”
Joining Cllr Hamilton on the constituency visit, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper added:
“Theses youth workers, who’ve been doing a brilliant job, are so overstretched and those youth services have been massively cut back over the last few years – just at a time when they are needed the most. And that is letting our young people down.
“That has an impact on young people’s mental health, it also has an impact on their education, and on things like anti-social behaviour.
“They (the youth workers) told us too about seeing young people being drawn into the gangs and into criminal exploitation at a much younger age. That’s why things like youth services and community policing are so important.”
Police presence and response times are a growing concern across Erdington, with many local residents and businesses calling out for more bobbies on the beat.
Since 2010, the West Midlands has seen £175m stripped from the region’s policing budget, resulting in over 2000 less officers in post – including 25% of those in active service and over 50% allocated to community policing.
Shoplifting and anti-social behaviour on Erdington High Street have become all too prevalent, as trouble makers and thieves know any call out is unlikely to result in uniformed offers attending the scene.
Last May, the 14 year old schoolboy Dea John Reid was fatally stabbed and died on Chester Road, once again highlighting the dangers for children on the streets of Erdington and across the city.
Standing in the heart of Kingstanding, Paulette Hamilton explained:
“In areas like this (Kingstanding) we see the signs, we see what’s happening, but sometimes we fail to act early enough.
“For me, it’s how we’re offering support to schools to help them identify some of the issues that then go onto the street, how are we supporting families before it gets to crisis point.
“I’d like to see more support services, like YMCA, where they can pick things up far earlier – and it means then we don’t get some of the tragedies like we did last year.”
Whilst policing budgets are currently set by the Conservative government, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper was keen to throw the support of the Shadow Cabinet behind the Labour candidate for Erdington MP.
She added: “As a local mum and a local nurse, Paulette really gets it and understands the need to support our young people.
“I think Paulette will be a great champion because she is so rooted in the community, with her family, and she will be a strong voice.
“She understands some of the pressures young people face and strong champion for community policing in this area.
“I think Paulette will be a strong voice for the whole community, for all the issues raised on the doorstep (when out campaigning) whether that’s the issues about HMOs or support for young people… I just think she’ll be brilliant.”
Erdington will elect its next Member of Parliament on Thursday, 3 March.
The 12 candidates contesting the Birmingham Erdington seat are: Cllr Paulette Hamilton (Labour), Cllr Robert Alden (Conservative), Dave Nellist (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition), Lee Dargue (Liberal Democrats), Michael Lutwyche (Independent), Jack Brookes (Reform UK), Siobhan Harper-Nunes (Green), Thomas O’Rouke (Independent), Mel Mbondiah (Christian People’s Alliance), Clifton Holmes (Independent), David Laurence Bishop (Militant Bus-Pass Elvis Party), The Good Knight Sir NosDa (The Official Monster Raving Loony Party).
For more on Paulette Hamilton visit www.birmingham.gov.uk/councillors/49/paulette_hamilton