‘Hostile takeover’ - West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner reacts to Mayor controlling his powers

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Andy Street has announced that the Home Secretary has agreed that the West Midlands Mayor can take on Police & Crime Commissioner powers in 2024

West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner Simon Foster has hit out at Andy Street as the Mayor has announced the Home Secretary has agreed that his role should oversee crime in the region.

Mr Street said last night (Wednesday, December 6) that James Clerverly had agreed that the West Midlands Mayor should take on PCC duties from May next year.

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He pointed out that crime in the region had doubled over the last eight years and that West Midlands Police is currently in special measures.

But Mr Foster described the move by the Mayor as a ‘hostile takeover’ and challenged Andy Street to ask the public what they wanted. 

The region’s Conservative mayor said last night: “My request for the Mayor to take on Police & Crime Commissioner powers from May has been agreed by the Home Secretary tonight.

“Crime has doubled in eight years and our force is now in special measures. We cannot go on like this. I’ll set out my plan of action in due course.”

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West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Police & Crime Commissioner Simon FosterWest Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Police & Crime Commissioner Simon Foster
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Police & Crime Commissioner Simon Foster

In a hard-hitting statement Labour’s Mr Foster responded, saying: “I deeply disagree with the Mayor’s hostile takeover, because firstly, he is abolishing people’s right to vote, so that he can appoint one of his friends to the role instead; secondly, preventing, tackling and reducing crime will not be his top priority, and thirdly, this is a cynical and divisive power grab, that is in no-one’s interests save that of the Mayor.

“The Mayor has made this decision, because his party has stood for election to the role of Police and Crime Commissioner four times and been defeated every time. That is because his party is not trusted by the people of the West Midlands, to tackle and reduce crime.”

“The Mayor represents a government that has inflicted immense damage on policing, essential preventative public services and our criminal justice system for the past 13 years. That has contributed to a rise in crime. The last thing the people I represent need, is an apologist for this government’s appalling record on policing, taking on responsibility for policing governance.

“There is no local democratic support for this cynical and divisive power grab. The Mayor is attempting to achieve through the backdoor, what his Party have been incapable of achieving through the ballot box.

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“I say, to Mayor Street: You still have an opportunity to put it to the people. Here is my challenge. Have the courage, the integrity and the principles – to put it to the people.

"Let the people decide, who they want to represent them as their Police and Crime Commissioner, at the election in May 2024. Let it be the people’s Vote: the People’s Choice and the People’s decision.”

Mayors in Manchester, London and West Yorkshire are already responsible for the governance and budgets of their police forces. But it’s currently not the case in the West Midlands.

It comes just days after West Midlands Police was put into special measures by inspectors following a series of what they saw as failings including poor investigations.