By Christian Barnett – Local Democracy Reporter

There are not enough police officers to respond to every crime in the region, the chief constable of West Mercia Police has admitted.

West Mercia Police chief constable Anthony Bangham, speaking to councillors at a meeting of Worcestershire County Council on Thursday (November 8), said the police did not have enough officers to respond to every report following news the number of hate crimes against disabled people had risen from two in 2015 to 24 in the year up to March 2018.

Mr Bangham said: “Let’s be absolutely honest here, we cannot and I don’t think it is right for us to expect that we can then deploy and give a full wraparound service to every one of those incidents.

Asked by Councillor Richard Udall whether West Mercia Police had the staff to respond to reported hate crimes, Mr Bangham said incidents of “high impact” crime can go un-resourced and the force is struggling to respond to those meaning some get recorded but are not investigated.

Mr Bangham said the difference between recorded crimes and the availability of officers to respond to the crimes needed to be distinguished and the police cannot – and should not be expected to – respond to every recorded incident of hate crime.

He added: “The more crimes that we record, the more incidents that get recorded as [the] sort of crimes that need investigation, then frankly we just do not have enough officers to deal with it.

“I do think we are facing a dilemma of bringing more in to understand it but at the same time being more comfortable with triaging and perhaps recording without following up an investigation.

“I have every single day in this area, right across Worcestershire, un-resourced incidents of more significant, high impact crimes that are happening – we have got burglaries of homes, violent crimes, we have got people injured, we have injuries on the roads, we have children missing.

“We have un-resourced incidents that we are struggling to get to right now.

“Therefore I do think we have to have an understanding that we can’t simply be expected to go to more and more.”

A plan by Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion to push officer numbers past the 2,000 mark by recruiting 100 extra officers was welcomed by the chief constable in September.

The new officers are likely to be in place by early 2019.