Did you know Coventry is the 11th biggest city in England? Itâ€™s bigger than Belfast and Newcastle upon Tyne and across the pond St Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the USA. We all know that right? Iâ€™m not so sure. We are a force with three large cities in Birmingham and Wolverhampton too. In any other force Coventry would be the biggest city!
Given the geography of the force itâ€™s quite possible you may never have even been there. However If you are from Cov you are, quite rightly, proud of the place.
In 2021 the rest of the country is going to get excited about the city because Coventry is the UK City of Culture.
This is a massive opportunity for West Midlands Police. I want to explain why this is important and get us thinking about how we maximise this opportunity. I want to do this now as in July weâ€™ll see the tempo of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games pick up and itâ€™s important we max out on Coventry first!
Coventry is a vibrant, diverse and young city. It has huge civic pride and amazing communities. It has some wonderful employers and great universities but it generally isnâ€™t given the profile its size demands.
Outside of Lady Godiva, Two Tone, the Specials and a football club that seems to have an on/off relationship with playing in the city, it has not got a strong national identity. While here is the only force where the Chief can â€œSend you to Coventryâ€ and itâ€™s a good thing, this statement says a lot!
We also know Coventry has some big challenges in relation to violence which we have seen play out in the last few weeks. This is why Coventry has sought out this opportunity.
So whatâ€™s going to happen? Unlike the Commonwealth Games this is not a big set piece operation over 10 days. Weâ€™ll see a number of big events as we already do with Godiva and Motorfest. In addition, something will be literally happening every day in 2021. From Shakespeare to music to public art. As Coventry is at the heart of England these events are going to significantly lift visitors to the city. That will of course mean more demand for policing.
However the City of Culture will create a buzz about the place. New confidence, ideas and opportunity and Iâ€™m excited that the organisers are really serious in ensuring we use this to engage the talented youth of the city and bring communities together.
No one is ducking the challenges and the City of Culture is going to bring the very communities affected by these into this event. Chief Superintendent Mike Oâ€™Hara and his team are very active with the organisers now to ensure the issues we see are very much part of the work. In turn I shall be looking at additional support for the NPU so we get the most we can from the year.
Iâ€™m a massive believer in events like this. In 2002 I saw a deprived run down part of Manchester host the Commonwealth Games. The buzz of pride from local people lifted us all. Oh and crime fell at the same time. Two years out from the event no one believed what it could do and cynicism was rife. That area is better and safer today as a result of what the games started. We are going to make this transformation in both 2021 and 2022 in two of our great cities.
Our job is to make Coventry a safe city for residents and visitors in this important year. Our passion for those we serve gives us an opportunity to go further and make this opportunity transformational for years to come. How do we put Coventry at the centre of 2021? Ideas always welcome!