Words & pics by Ed King
Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton has called on the West Midlands Police Chief Constable to “walk along Erdington High Street” with her, to see firsthand the “concerning levels of crime and anti-social behaviour” that blight Erdington Town Centre.
In an open letter sent earlier this week to the region’s most senior police officer, Ms Hamilton MP raised the alarm over policing in the retail district – stating crime on the High Street was one of the “main reasons constituents contact my office” and that “despite considerable efforts” from both the police and local officials, the MP has “not seen a clear improvement in over a year”.
The letter, addressed to West Midlands Police (WMP) Chief Constable Craig Guildford and dated 21 September, goes on to challenge one of the key promises made by the regional police force – namely that WMP are committed to ‘Providing a service that works for local people’.
In response to this commitment, which is the first of the three ‘strategic pillars’ WMP outline in their official strategy for policing in the region, Ms Hamilton states this promise is “simply not being met when it comes to Erdington High Street”.
The letter concludes with a request for the Chief Constable to “reassure” the Erdington MP “the High Street is a priority” and an invitation to join Ms Hamilton “on a walk along Erdington High Street to discuss the next steps we can take together”.
Crime and anti-social behaviour on Erdington High Street have long been a concern for local businesses, shoppers, and residents alike – with stores reportedly losing out on thousands a week from aggressive shoplifters, and members of the public telling Erdington Local they are increasing afraid to shop there.
Recently, the Erdington Business Improvement District employed a second Street Warden to help support local businesses and shoppers.
But a perceived lack of uniformed presence on the High Street has left both the private security and retail staff feeling dangerously unsupported, with members of the public also questioning where the police foot patrols have gone.
In West Midlands Police’s official strategy document, published on their website, the regional force declares a ‘new local policing model’ which will present ‘a local, visible police service, delivered in the heart of our diverse communities.’
Under the first heading of ‘Providing a service that works for local people’ – as referenced in the letter from Ms Hamilton MP – West Midlands Police say: ‘People can expect to see more officers spending more time in their local community, understanding and preventing local problems’.
Regarding crime on Erdington High Street specifically, Chief Constable Craig Guildford has previously told Erdington Local: “First and foremost we’re (WMP) absolutely committed to providing the best service we can to the residents, business owners, and any visitors to the High Street in Erdington.”
A meeting to discuss crime on the High Street alongside the local police teams, with local retailers and residents also invited to attend, has been scheduled for 19 October – as arranged by the Erdington MP’s office.
For more from Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton visit www.paulettehamilton.org
To read more about West Midlands Police’s ‘Mission, Vision, Values, Behaviours and Strategy’ visit www.west-midlands.police.uk/about-us/vision-values-strategy