DUDLEY's top cop Sally Bourner has called on residents to be the 'eyes and ears of the police' as she marks one year working in the borough.

Dudley police commander Sally Bourner took on the top job last August and during her tenure Dudley has remained one of the safest boroughs in the West Midlands.

Setting her goals for the year ahead, Chief Superintendent Bourner wants to see residents take on an active role to keep their communities safe.

She is calling on each of the borough's 24 wards to have at least one active Streetwatch scheme where residents carry out street patrols to support the police.

Residents taking part have no police powers but help report suspicious behaviour to local police teams.

Ch Supt Bourner stressed the scheme is not about vigilantism, rather communities working together to improve their area.

She said: "We want the public to be our eyes and ears, to become part of the solution. How can we work together to make places better?"

Anyone interested in volunteering for a Streetwatch scheme should register their interest by emailing Streetwatch@west-midlands.pnn.police.uk.

Looking back on her first year in the post, during a career that spans 29 years with the West Midlands Police, Ch Supt Bourner said she was struck by the 'wonderful, friendly, kind, warm people' of the borough.

She said: "This is a very special place, defined by the warmth and friendliness and pride of the people.

"This borough is going places, it's got really exciting times ahead."

She pointed to the upcoming Metro extension, the creation of the Resonance music college in Brierley Hill and the Institute of Technology at Dudley College as reasons to be optimistic.

Ch Supt Bourner however was clear that there is still work to be done to tackle violent crime and burglaries, crimes she said were her priority in tackling.

She said: "I can't sit here and say crime has gone down, but in what continues to be challenging times for our communities we have maintained strong levels of control and crime is stable."

Dudley borough is safest in the West Midlands for total crimes committed per 1000 of the population, safest in the Black Country for violent crimes and second safest for violent crime in the West Midlands after Solihull per 1000 head of population, according to the police chief.

Ch Supt Bourner did acknowledge how a 'small number of significant incidents' have an impact on how communities view crime in their area.

She urged people to report non-emergencies via web chat, which was launched last year, in a bid to free up phone lines for emergency 999 calls.

She added that feedback on the web service had been 'incredibly positive'.