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  1. Hundreds turn to new group after losing faith in service. Rising tide of violence: A traffic warden gets a kicking in the West Midlands Date - 16th November 2018 By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle 6 Comments A vigilant group has moved on to the streets of Britain’s second city to “fill the gaps” exposed by an under-resourced police service crying out for adequate funding from the government. Facebook has assisted in spawning the 550-strong community watchdog group ‘We Stand Determined’ – just weeks after an unsuccessful petition to get more officer numbers in Birmingham. Left “doing the best they can” in a “catch 22” situation, West Midlands Police now has an alternative force encouraging its social media members and the wider community to report any dangers and threats, day or night amid fears crime is spiralling out of control. We Stand Determined – set up three weeks ago – runs twice-weekly patrols across the city but insists the group is non-violent and seeks to work in partnership with the force, not against it, as a new line of defence for residents. Three organisers, only known as Wayne, Tracy and Michael, said they launched the group after discovering a friend had been attacked in his home by thieves armed with hammers. Solihull-based college lecturer Wayne, 47, said the group represents a “friendly approach” while the police can be “standoffish to people in communities”. He admitted the group’s “biggest achievement to date is how quickly it has taken off and we have got the trust of the residents”. He added: “The way our group started, and the reaction we’ve had, has showed us how much local communities need groups like us to fill in the gaps the authorities simply don’t have the funding for. “There has been a recent spate of crime in Birmingham recently and Solihull in particular has fallen victim to an increase of just under 1,500 more cases so far this year. “People needed someone to turn to, someone who will listen and visit them in their home if a constituent is fearful for their own safety. “We’re vigilantes, but we’re vigilantes with a twist, working within the law and not against it. “Our group is a central place for the local community to come together to log crimes, comment and help stop crime in the area.” The group wants to generate a new level of support with buddy systems for the elderly and defence classes for anyone who feels unable to protect themselves. The advent of the vigilantes comes in the wake of an apparent “loss of trust” in policing from the public and embattled service chiefs admitting austerity – with the government overseeing a reduction in police numbers by 20,000 officers since 2010 – has impacted by cutting funding by a fifth in the same period. Senior officers have spoken out at the “crippling” impact Treasury demands to increase pension contributions will impose on a service now facing further swingeing cuts to officer numbers. Technical change to pension calculation – costing an extra £417 million and a potential 10,000 positions – means a return to numerical totals in policing last seen nearly half a century ago. For England’s second biggest force – West Midlands – Chief Constable Dave Thompson has called for an emergency budget to address finding £22.6 million by 2021, accusing ministers of “getting their maths wrong”. Those pension changes alone equate to a potential shedding of 500 officers for the West Midlands force; the lowest officer level in Greater Manchester’s 44-year history with the first cuts in numbers for eight years; and a £24 million shortfall in West Yorkshire’s finances. For Merseyside, Chief Constable Andy Cooke paints the grimmest of pictures – warning that the latest blow to policing’s coffers has turned his much-vaunted force from “proactive” to “reactive” – and left officers “struggling to provide a service” and fighting to preserve their “mental and physical wellbeing”. Earlier this week West Mercia chief constable Anthony Bangham admitted there was just “not enough” officers to respond to every crime in his region. A crime survey of 10,000 respondents earlier this summer across the West Midlands region revealed half did not feel safe with two thirds never seeing officers on patrol in their area, 87 per cent thought the police were not doing a good job, 94 per cent had lost faith in the criminal justice system, and 97 per cent reckoned the government was not acting tough enough on crime The West Midlands force would not be drawn on the new vigilantes, with a spokeswoman saying it “intended to reply” but had “no comment” at this stage. View On Police Oracle

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