HAGLEY villagers will demand action to tackle drug taking and a surge in crime during a public meeting with the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner.

Residents will meet PCC John Campion at Hagley Community Centre on Monday, October 16, at 7pm, to discuss crime and anti-social behaviour in the village.

It comes following a 37 per cent increase in crimes recorded in the Hagley and Rubery policing area in the space of a year.

Lifelong resident Peter Rowbottom said: "Crime levels in Hagley are now at worryingly high levels, borne out by the fact there has been almost a 40 per cent increase in crime in the local policing area this year compared to last.

“So far this year burglars have entered people’s homes at night to take car keys to steal cars, school pupils have been robbed of their mobile phones on their way home from school in the village centre, and drug offences regularly occur in the playing fields area.

“When West Mercia Police closed Hagley Police Station in 2014, they announced there would be a Hagley Policing Community Post based at the parish council offices, which local police could use as a base to ensure a continued police presence in Hagley. I've seen no evidence of this being used."

Another resident, Jo Feghali, added: "In the five years I have lived here I have seen a marked increase in young people openly smoking cannabis in recreational spaces with young children and families looking on.

“Dealers are regularly seen coming into the area making residents feel unsafe."

According to the police's own figures, there were 1374 recorded crimes in Hagley and Rubery between January and August 2017, compared to 1002 crimes in the same period in 2016.

Inspector Gareth Keyte of Hagley and Rubery Safer Neighbourhood Team said: “Taken in isolation, it is understandably easy to be alarmed by an increase in reported crime between January and August this year compared with last year.

"However, there are a range of factors resulting in an increase in reports, including national improvements in the way crime is recorded.

"We continue to work extremely hard to increase the public's trust and confidence in us, both as a force and as a police service nationally, and I believe we are now seeing a greater willingness to report crime as a result.

“It should be noted that around 20 per cent of those crimes reported in the area are lower level incidents of anti social behaviour.

"Anti social behaviour and drugs use on Hagley playing fields is one of our current policing priorities.

"We continue to provide education and crime advice through regular engagement and Partner and Communities Together (PACT) meetings.

"I encourage local residents to attend these meetings whenever they can, so they can work with us to shape policing priorities in the area over the coming months."