Express & Star comment: Modern policing needs more manpower
Figures showing the massive reduction in the number of police officers on our streets over the last decade are a national disgrace.
In the West Midlands and Staffordshire, police forces have lost a quarter of their officers over the period, with particularly large reductions in the number of frontline officers.
Under any circumstances these figures are shocking, but when you consider the fact that we are in the midst of a crimewave the situation becomes far worse.
Could it be that the rise in crime is somehow linked to a lack of bobbies on the beat?
It sounds obvious, but dare to suggest such a possibility in certain circles and you be met with furrowed brows and much talk of 'the changing face of crime'.
Above all, these figures show that there needs to be a thorough review of the state of police finances.
The public is quite within its rights to ask the question: where is the money being spent?
The Government sticks to its line that police funding will go up by £450 million this year, a fair chunk of which is being raised through an increase in the council tax precept.
Meanwhile Labour insists that police funding has fallen massively in real terms since it was last in power, without acknowledging that the seeds for the current state of affairs were undoubtedly sown during Gordon Brown's calamitous administration.
Police and crime commissioners have some serious questions to answer.
They are supposed to hold the police to account, but in reality the role has mainly involved politicising policing more than ever before.
The public is sick of politicians treating law and order like a stick to beat each other with.
While Labour and the Tories sit arguing over who has the worst record on crime, murders, burglaries, robberies and vehicle thefts continue to rise.
We are talking about a matter of public safety here.
In some areas of the region, officers are rarely seen and many people have lost faith in the ability of the police to deal with crime.
This cannot continue.
Our police forces must be given the resources to combat crime, and the most important one of all is manpower.