Last week I called the murder of three teenage boys in Birmingham a local emergency. This week murders in London and Manchester made this a national crisis. On Wednesday I joined other Chiefs at a meeting with the Home Secretary to discuss our response which was a very positive, energised meeting.
Meanwhile you have been working incredibly hard. From the staff investigating these crimes to officers carrying out searches in often difficult circumstances. I commend you all for stepping up to the challenge of protecting young people.
The citywide section 60 needed to send out a message: carrying weapons has become too frequent and people will be searched to protect our children. I think the message has been sent out loudly and clearly and has created some disruption. From today (Friday 8 March) our strategy will evolve.
The citywide section 60 will end but in parts of Birmingham it will continue as we have areas where we still need to keep at this. We will not be waiting for new intelligence or an incident to trigger the powers.
We will be proactive. We know where we have violence or robbery areas of concern and we will be deploying in a targeted and unpredictable manner and I expect these to be daily activities until at least the end of the summer.
This is sustainable and will ensure the threat of detection remains enhanced and our actions will be less predictable. This approach will extend to other parts of the force where we feel this is necessary. We want to challenge weapon carrying culture by action.
It also has to change as we need to remember that most young people are not involved in violence. We want their help and overuse of searches will alienate some marginalised young people from us. We are there to protect them. We do not want to criminalise children. Where the power is not in place it is time to do more “stop and talk” with our young people and help them step back from crime and violence and to build their trust. We also need to involve local communities in how to tackle this. I am so proud to see so many of our Street Watch volunteers out in force as we delivered this operation. I want to see more of this.
At the same time we all need to “stop and think”. We have done some good work on preventing youth violence but it is not enough. NPU Commanders are working with local partners to ensure a better long term response is in place. We need to think hard about what more we can do as this problem will grow as we approach warmer weather. That is now where we need your help.
I want to hear from the public with ideas you have on how we can better meet this challenge: To Stop and Search, to stop and talk and to stop and think. Email [email protected].
The answer lies in a 100 little things as there is no single answer. I want to hear your ideas so we can consider how we use them as we develop our future plans.
Finally, there have been some comments by some politicians this week that have disappointed me. Despite the frustrations it is very important we expend our energy on what we are doing about this issue as communities want protection and solutions from us. The public are very clear they feel there should be more police. We need to keep our eye on the issues young people and communities face and hope others catch up.
The Police and Crime Commissioner and myself yesterday announced 200 more officers will join our ranks over the next two years. The first growth in establishment since 2010. It’s a start and more details will follow soon on where they will be deployed.
Thank you again for the hard work this week. Policing is rising to the challenge but everyone owns this problem.