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17 March 2015, 17:39
Police officers will stop patrolling the streets in nine out of 10 areas in the West Midlands, a Chief Constable has said.
West Midlands police will instead rely on digital methods to tackle crime as a response to Government cuts, meaning a drastic reduction in the number of street-based officers.
Patrol areas will be prioritised according to need, which could lead to bobbies on the beat being all but eradicated in less troubled neighbourhoods.
The general public will be expected to contact the police by smartphone apps and social media rather than visiting their local police station.
West Midlands Chief Constable Chris Sims said: "Until now we have tried to deliver neighbourhood policing as a universal service.
"Clearly there are areas of greater need that we put our resources into - we have to prioritise against need because there are smaller areas that are bigger drivers of crime that have bigger challenges.
"Neighbourhood patrols have been in need of a refresh for some time, we can do a lot of community building with a smaller amount of resources by hitting the right spots and doing the right things.''
The force, which is the third biggest in the UK, is expected to cut 40% of its budget over the next few years and will reduce their staff to 8,000 by 2020, down from 13,500 in 2010.
Mr Sims confirmed that traditional police surgeries and community meetings could also be scrapped and told The Guardian that nine out of 10 areas of the West Midlands would not have street patrols.
But these cuts will not negatively affect police work, Mr Sims stated, as the capacity of officers to tackle crime is constantly evolving.
He added: "This is not just a response to austerity, the demands of policing are changing quite rapidly.''