OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pic supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

As your local MP representing Erdington, Kingstanding, and Castle Vale, I care about the issues that affect you and our community. Here are some of the things I have done in the past month:

I recently hosted a meeting with Simon Foster, the Police and Crime Commissioner, Chief Superintendent Richard North, local traders, and officials from Birmingham City Council. 

We discussed the ongoing issues of crime and antisocial behaviour on Erdington High Street.

Importantly, they heard concerns from our traders, recognising the need for more robust measures to enhance security and enforcement, and the need to work more closely to combat crime in the area.

I was also approached by traders on Slade Road who raised concerns about issues they were experiencing, including theft, antisocial behaviour, and the presence of sex workers. I empathised with the challenges facing local traders and will be following up on their concerns and working towards a constructive solution. 

I recently participated in a National Day of Action for Safer Streets to prevent road accidents, injuries, and deaths. As part of this effort, I’m backing the campaign to reduce speeds to 30mph on local roads. I would urge everyone to have their say by taking part in the consultation – please do get in touch if you want to know more. 

Despite 13 years of Conservative cuts to policing, I will not give up on fighting crime and antisocial behaviour in our area. I will keep working to secure the resources we need to keep our community safe. 

For more on Paulette Hamilton MP for Erdington visit www.paulettehamilton.org

NEWS: Erdington to get permanent police Inspector as Rachel Derby leaves Birmingham force

Words & pics by Ed King

Erdington is set to get a permanent police Inspector, as the constituency’s temporary ‘top cop’ Rachel Derby will be leaving Birmingham to join the Staffordshire force.

After Erdington’s previous Inspector, Haroon Chughtai, left the constituency in January 2022 – being promoted to Chief Inspector to work in Counter Terrorism – Rachel Derby was the police’s trusted pair of hands who took over whilst a long-term placement was being found.

Nearly a year later and following a “robust HR process” from West Midlands Police, Erdington is about to welcome a full time Inspector to take over the Neighbourhood Police Unit (NPU) and deliver the on-street strategy for combatting crime in the area.

In the final recruitment stages, West Midlands Police will be announcing the name of the new Erdington Inspector “imminently”.

Currently on annual leave, Temporary Inspector Rachel Derby worked her last shift in Erdington on Friday 14 October – handing over to Police Sargeant Frances Clark, who stands as the coordinator for the local NPUs and has a proven track record in community policing.

A spokesperson from West Midlands Police told Erdington Local: “Temporary Inspector Rachel Darby developed excellent relationships with communities in Erdington during her time policing the constituency.

“Rachel is going to Staffordshire Police on promotion next month and is currently on a two-week period of annual leave before she officially transfers.

“In the meantime, Sergeant Fran Clark has oversight of Sutton & Erdington constituency as the coordinator supported by the senior leadership team which is not unusual when Inspectors are on leave.

“This includes a dedicated local policing Chief Inspector and Superintendent who have ownership and responsibility for Birmingham East Neighbourhood Policing Unit.

“We have robust HR processes in place to fill Rachel’s post. This work is currently being done and Rachel’s successor will be starting imminently.”

Since 2010, the West Midlands has seen £175m pulled from its policing budget – losing around 2000 officers, 25% in active service and over 50% allocated to community policing.

Erdington suffers from one of the highest crime rates in the city, with regular calls for more police presence from Erdington residents, community groups, and constituency stakeholders.

In December last year, a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) was reinstated around Erdington High Street – giving local police the power to forcibly remove anyone from the ‘Restricted Area’ they suspect to be intoxicated or causing anti-social behaviour.

Despite being widely welcomed by many who live and work in the Erdington ward, since the PSPO came back into being – having previously operated until 2018 – some local residents feel the extended police authority has made minimal impact.

One Church Road resident, who lives a short walk form Erdington High Street, told: “I thought the idea of the PSPO was great, but it doesn’t seem to have made a difference.

“Earlier this year a man was nearly beaten to death outside Greggs. Things like that shouldn’t be allowed to happen on a busy High Street with a police station five minutes away.

“I can see the High Street from my kitchen window and I hear fights and drunken arguments nearly every night.

“We need more police on the street, plain and simple – at the moment the High Street is basically policed by the Street Warden and some very dedicated Community Support Officers.”

Paulette Hamilton MP has had tackling crime in the constituency high on her agenda since taking office in May this year.

The Erdington Member of Parliament will be bringing the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, to discuss issues over crime with local partners in January 2023 – at her regular ‘Big Conversation’ event.

Simon Foster previously came to Erdington for a tour of the High Street with the late Jack Dromey MP in November 2021, and to meet with the newly formed Street Pastors.

During the visit he told Erdington Local: “My key campaign pledge is to rebuild community policing in the West Midlands because I think dismantling it was a big mistake; it was counterproductive, it’s a false economy.

“It’s really important that we have community initiatives like the Street Pastors, like Neighbourhood Watch, like Street Watch, Speed Watch, Street Wardens,.

“All of those different projects play a really important role in providing that help, reassurance, and support to local communities.”

NEWS: West Midlands Crime Commissioner celebrates ‘fantastic job’ by Erdington Street Pastors

Words & pics by Ed King

On Saturday 13 November, the Erdington Street Pastors were joined on their morning patrol by West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster – walking with the team up and down Erdington High Street.

Celebrating the efforts of the Street Pastors, Simon Foster told Erdington Local: “My message to the Street Pastors is that they’re doing a fantastic job on Erdington High Street.

“I think it’s a brilliant initiative and I’ve been very pleased to support it as Police and Crime Commissioner.

“It really does help the neighbourhood police teams; helping them prevent crime, protect people, and ensuring that vulnerable people are kept safe.”

Erdington MP Jack Dromey, who also joined the Street Pastors and Simon Foster on patrol and talking to people on Erdington High Street, added: “The Street Pastors reassure the local community that the High Street is a welcoming place that they can go to.

“As Simon (Foster) has said, they reach to and put their arms around sometimes some of the most vulnerable in our community who have fallen through the net and as a consequence of which sometime behave badly.”

A global initiative, Street Pastors are currently active in over 240 cities and town across the UK – including 20 in the West Midlands alone. Twelve Street Pastors have been patrolling Erdington High Street since their ‘commissioning’ on Saturday 18 September.

Working with the police and local community leaders/groups, the Street Pastors help tackle issues around anti-social behaviour and public disturbances, whilst offering a friendly face for anyone who needs help or just wants to talk.

Pastor Rasaq Ibrahim is lead pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Erdington and Chair of the Erdington Street Pastors, who joined with churches across Erdington to bring the inititive to the area.

An active Street Pastor himself, Pastor Rasaq led the Saturday morning team on patrol with Simon Foster and Joack Dromey. He told Erdington Local: “It’s greta to have Simon (Foster) join us on patrol in Erdington, he has been humbly walking with us for two hours – meeting popel and seeing what we do.

“Erdington Street Pastor have been well supported by the West Midlands Crime Commissioner’s office and we look forward to building on that partnership.”

But since 2010 the West Midlands has had £175m pulled from its policing budget, seeing a drop of over 2000 police officers – around 25% of those in active service, and over 50% allocated to community policing..

Recently re-elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for the region, Simon Foster has put this top of his agenda.

He added: “My key campaign pledge is to rebuild community policing in the West Midlands because I think dismantling it was a big mistake; it was counterproductive, it’s a false economy

“It’s really important that we have community initiatives like the Street Pastors, like Neighbourhood Watch, like Street Watch, Speed Watch, Street Wardens, all of those different projects play a really important role in providing that help, reassurance, and support to local communities.”

A very real concern for many across Erdington, Jack Dromey has been hearing about street safety from local residents during sessions at his surgery.

He explained: “If you lose 2000 police officers, if you lose so much of the social fabric that diverts young people from crime, what you see as day follows night is a rising crime and that’s wrong.

“Time, and time, and time again I get people who come to my surgery – people I’ve met today on the High Street here with Simon (Foster) – who say, at the most extreme, we’re afraid to go out at night, we no longer feel comfortable in our community, on our High Street. That is absolutely and fundamentally wrong.”

For more information about the Erdington Street Pastors and to see if you can get involved email Pastor Rasaq at chair.erdington@streetpastors.org.uk

For more on the Street Pastors initiative visit www.streetpastors.org

NEWS: Stockland Green to get £432,000 anti-crime investment from Government’s Safer Streets Fund

Words by Adam Smith

CCTV and other anti-crime measures will be installed in Stockland Green after a £432,000 grant from the Government’s Safer Streets Fund.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner and Birmingham City Council applied for the money after a rise in crime in Stockland Green attributed to increased exempt housing in the area.

As well as CCTV, improved lighting, and security gates, the money will be used to clamp down on burglary, robbery, and vehicle theft.

The Government promised more funding will be available to target changing the behaviour of some men, so women and girls feel safer.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster said:

“After years of essential preventative public services being starved of funding it is good to see we’ve been able to secure some additional money to make small, but not insignificant, improvements to our streets.

“We know there are simple things that can be done to prevent crime and, working with the council, we intend to use this money to do them.

“We’ll tighten security where we think it can be tighter and make sure CCTV is fitted in crime hotspots.”

Councillor John Cotton, Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “This is very welcome news and will be a real boost to our efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour and support the community.

“The Council will be working closely with residents, the PCC, and the police to make sure this extra money helps to deliver a safer neighbourhood for everyone who lives or works in Stockland Green.”

Erdington MP Jack Dromey welcomed the cash injection after constituents complained about the changing nature of Stockland Green, blaming a mushrooming number of HMOs on the increase in anti-social behaviour and crime.

He said: “I have been contacted by numerous constituents who are worried, many say they do not feel safe in their local area.

“Securing almost half a million pounds from the Safer Streets Fund will help protect local communities from crime by funding the installation of additional street lighting to deter criminals and the fitting of CCTV in problem areas so we are able to catch those committing crimes to ensure they are brought to justice.”

He added: “I’d like to pay tribute to West Midlands Police, Birmingham City Council and local campaigners who have worked hard to secure this funding that will improve the lives of residents in Stockland Green.”

For the latest news from West Midlands Police visit www.west-midlands.police.uk/news