Unite, the UK’s largest union, which represents police staff, has described attempts by West Midlands Conservative MPs to reverse the funding earmarked for frontline police staff as grossly irresponsible.

The Conservative MPs have launched a co-ordinated campaign opposing West Midlands police and crime commissioner David Jamieson’s budget which will provide an additional £10 million to fund frontline police staff roles.

The £10 million increase in the West Midlands budget will include an increase in workers undertaking frontline investigatory roles including child abuse investigators, 999 emergency call handlers and forensic experts. The budget increase will also pay for the increase in police staff pay (which the government failed to fund).

The proposed increase in frontline police staff roles is designed to free up and support warranted police staff in catching criminals.

Nationally the number of police staff and police community support officers has been reduced by 26 per cent since 2010. During that time police staff have been increasingly forced into frontline roles and are now often the public’s first point of contact following a crime. Their uniforms now mean that they are virtually indistinguishable from warranted police officers

The increase in frontline police staff in the West Midlands is opposed by seven Conservative MPs: Julian Knight, Andrew Mitchell, Margot James, James Morris, Caroline Spelman, Wendy Morton and Eddie Hughes. In a letter to David Jamieson, West Midlands police and crime commissioner, they describe the police staff as “back office staff”.

Eddie Hughes MP for Walsall North went further and during prime minister’s question time asked Theresa May: “Will the prime minister join me in urging the Labour police and crime commissioner to put more police on the streets instead of increasing his budget for back office staff.”

Unite national officer Jim Kennedy said: “The Conservative MPs in the West Midlands are either completely out of touch or are being grossly irresponsible in spreading misinformation about the role of frontline police staff.

“The cuts to the police budgets since 2010 have resulted in a huge reduction in police staff; those that remain have had a greatly increased workload and are increasingly being forced to undertake frontline roles.

“Increasingly the public do not realise that they are being aided by a member of frontline police staff rather than a police officer.

“How anyone can oppose funding to increase the number of child abuse investigators, 999 emergency call handlers and forensic experts, who are in the frontline of assisting the public and solving crimes, is absolutely beyond me.

“The MPs involved in this campaign need to apologise to the police staff whose work they have besmirched and receive some urgent remedial education on how the police service now operates.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.