WMP praised for preventing and tackling crime in latest inspection
West Midlands Police is good at preventing crime, tackling serious organised crime and treating the public well, says the latest major review of the force by independent inspectors.
Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services also said that we make good use of the resources available to us and are good at recording crime.
The report highlights that we prioritise public safety and protecting people from serious harm, that we use problem solving and work with other organisations to prevent crime, anti-social behaviour and vulnerability.
HMICFRS also said we had made progress against many areas of national recommendation to monitor and analyse stop and search data and work to improve further continues. We hold regular scrutiny panels which examine body worn video footage and challenge how officers use stop and search powers to ensure a fairer service to the public.
The inspectors also recognised our ongoing efforts to make sure our workforce reflects the diverse communities we serve.
As with any organisation, the report found a number of areas for improvement. These included the need to improve how we investigate crime and the use of technology to monitor sex offenders. Significant work is already underway to tackle these areas including an end-to-end review of investigations to further improve how we work.
We will continue to work to improve how we protect the most vulnerable. HMICFRS have identified that they are pleased with aspects of the way we protect vulnerable people but that we can’t meet the demand for services in protecting vulnerable people with the resources we have.
The inspection took place during the height of the pandemic when there were extremely high levels of demand for our services and high numbers of staff were absent for Covid-related reasons. It found that call handling just fell short of the national target of 90%. We continue to work hard to meet the service standards set out in our Citizens’ Charter which was introduced this year.
Commenting on the report, Deputy Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine said: “This is a fair inspection that shows the strengths of the force and the areas identified for improvements are those that we identified to the inspectors at the start of this process. The inspection took place at a demanding time in the pandemic which accentuated some issues. It coincided with the introduction of new operational technology to the force which will offer long term improvements but has created short term disruption.
“We recognise we need to do more to improve how we investigate some crimes. We are working hard to achieve this with measures such as an end-to-end review of investigations and our Detective Academy. These are helping to improve our investigative capacity, capability and outcomes. We have already addressed most of the issues identified in the management of sex offenders.
“West Midlands Police serves a highly complex region with high deprivation. We note the observation that the force does not have the resources to meet the demand for services for vulnerable people that limits our ability to improve this grade. The high demand that West Midlands Police deals with is evident throughout the report. We will use the new officers recruited through the government’s uplift programme to strengthen our capacity but many of these areas need a partnership response.
“While we are pleased that inspectors recognised our crime recording as good we believe the current system is in need of urgent reform. Accurate crime recording is important but the current system is overly bureaucratic, creates a misleading picture of crime and does not act in the public interest in the way it operates. It is partly responsible for the pressures on investigators.
“We have highlighted our concerns to HMICFRS and we would welcome an opportunity to work alongside them and other partners to achieve a better position and outcomes for victims.”
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, said: “I am pleased to see that Inspectors have recognised West Midlands Police is good at preventing crime, treating the public well and tackling serious, organised criminals. I am pleased to see the improvement in how the force records crimes.
“The inspectors also found that West Midlands Police is efficient and well run. Taxpayers should therefore be assured that good use is being made of the resources that the force has.
“However, the assessment also shows the challenges that are faced. As the report states, West Midlands Police ‘can’t meet the demand for its services in protecting vulnerable people with the resources it has’. The assessment is the same in connection with investigation teams. It says West Midlands Police “lack capacity”, meaning more resources are needed to cope with the demand that is faced. West Midlands Police faces high levels of high harm crimes, yet funding per head is lower than for many other areas, with far fewer threats. That is why I have called on MPs and leaders across our region to come together with a single, united voice to seek a fair funding deal for the West Midlands.
“West Midlands Police has endured a decade of cuts which forced it to reduce its police officer numbers by 2,221. That was 25% of our police offices. Whilst we are due to receive a net increase of 1,200 police officers by 2023, that will still leave the Force with a shortfall of 1,000 police officers. This report, and the recommendations it makes, should be read in that context.
“I was elected in May this year, but I can guarantee that my attention will be focused on both working with the force and holding it to account to ensure continuous improvement.”