THE new West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner believes community-led policing will be a key factor in maintaining Dudley’s low crime rates.

Recently-elected to the £100,000-a-year post, Bob Jones plans to set up local boards on which representatives from sectors such as voluntary groups, youth organisations and small businesses will be given a voice.

Speaking after his first visit to the borough’s local policing unit at Brierley Hill on Tuesday, Mr Jones said Dudley had a “very impressive record” with the lowest crime figures in the region, which had to be sustained.

He wants to divert funding to a local level and allow policing boards to set their own annual plan, although he stressed this would not be set in stone, and police would be able to react to changing situations.

The long-serving Wolverhampton Labour councillor said PACT meetings - Police and Community Together - will continue, influencing priorities at a neighbourhood level.

Mr Jones, who was chairman of the West Midlands Police Authority, which the Government scrapped in favour of the commissioner system, is also campaigning for fairer funding for the region’s police and is working on the final touches of next year’s budget proposals, which he intends will release more bobbies onto the streets.

He defended his decision to appoint a £65,000-a-year part-time deputy saying that with a population of three million - the biggest region outside London - he needed an assistant.