Birmingham & Black Country

West Midlands Police to recruit 800 officers

David Jamieson, West Midlands PCC
Image caption Police and crime Ccmmissioner David Jamieson said the recruitment comes after an efficiency drive

West Midlands Police is to recruit 1,150 staff, including 800 officers.

The force will take on the new PCs as well as 150 police community support officers (PCSOs) and 200 specialist staff over three years.

Commissioner David Jamieson said the recruitment was possible following an efficiency drive.

Some 500 officers forced to retire from West Midlands Police were among those who lost an age discrimination case last year.

Latest updates on this and other West Midlands stories

More than 1,000 officers in England and Wales sought compensation over having to leave after 30 years' service under the A19 regulation, used by 15 forces to make savings since 2010.

In March the West Midlands force - the second biggest in England - had 7, 101 officers compared with 8,775 in 2009.

The jobs boost comes as research suggests more than a third of people in England and Wales have not seen a bobby on the beat for a year.

A website for people to register their interest in becoming an officer will open later, and specific roles will be advertised soon.

Image caption The starting salary for new officers is £23,964

In 2014, the force took on about 450 officers, ending a five-year recruitment freeze which it said followed government funding cuts.

Mr Jamieson, who was re-elected as PCC in May, said: "This recruitment is at nearly double the rate of my previous term in office and is only happening because of the tough decisions that have been taken to make West Midlands Police more efficient.

"West Midlands Police has faced the biggest cuts of any force in the country and is receiving £2.5 million less from the government again this year."

Analysis - BBC Midlands Today special correspondent Peter Wilson

The West Midlands Police force is the second largest in the country dealing with some of the worse crimes and organised gangs operating in the UK.

Yet since 2010, because of public spending cuts, the force has lost thousands of staff. It's also an ageing force - the average age approaching mid-40s - and only ten per cent of officers come from ethnic and minority communities.

This announcement won't turn the clock back, but the chief constable sees it as a chance to stabilise the force and keep it up to date and effective.

Today I spoke to a Polish officer, a man born in Jamaica and two Muslim brothers born in Alum Rock, Birmingham, who have all recently been recruited.

Having a force that reflects the people it serves and understands them is vital for British policing. They told me the force was supporting them and that they feel they're making a difference on the streets of the West Midlands.

Two years ago, the force said it would close 27 of its 41 front desks to save £3m.

Last year the PCC said the force needed to "up its game" and employ more minorities after hiring just one black officer from its 2014 recruitment drive.

A spokeswoman said the recruitment drive would target publications, radio stations and social media consumed by minority groups.

BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) officers are also acting as ambassadors among community groups, she added.

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