West Midlands PEEL 2014
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
The leadership of the chief officer team is clear and there is a convincing plan supporting the introduction of the Code of Ethics. Governance processes are good and staff understand professional boundaries. The force appropriately identifies threats and risks posed by unprofessional behaviour, misconduct and corruption and responds robustly. Further work is needed to improve initial assessments of misconduct, ensure misconduct processes are fair and learning points are identified. A number of policies need to be reviewed and improved.
Further insights on legitimacy
The Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013) found that the proportion of respondents who think that the force does an excellent/good job was less than the figure across England and Wales. The same survey over the same period also found that the proportion of people who agree that the force deals with local concerns was broadly in line with the figure for England and Wales. The force’s own victim satisfaction survey (12 months to June 2014) found that the proportion of victims who were satisfied with their experience was less than the figure across England and Wales. The crime data integrity inspection found that a central team within the audit and compliance unit called back a proportion of people who had reported incidents or crimes as part of a quality assurance process. The domestic abuse inspection found that there were good systems within the control room to identify victims who have previously reported domestic abuse. Officers are only required to carry out formal victim risk assessments where a crime has been committed involving intimate partners or ex-partners. The force cannot be confident that all victims are consistently getting access to the services they need. The force has good crime-recording procedures in place when receiving reports of crime, meaning that victims of crime receive the service they should when they first report a crime. However, HMIC is concerned with the accuracy of the decisions taken by the force when making no-crime decisions (cancelling a recorded crime), too many of which are incorrect. The force needs to take action to improve the service to the victims of these crimes and provide the public with confidence in the force’s crime data. The child protection inspection found the force lacked understanding about how to record information that had come to its attention and there was insufficient guidance in some frontline teams.
To what extent does the force ensure that the workforce acts with integrity?
The chief officer team consistently and effectively reinforces integrity issues and its clear lead is recognised across the force. Work to support the promotion of integrity is being driven by chief officers and the plan to implement the Code of Ethics is well developed. HMIC found that staff are prepared to challenge unprofessional behaviour and ways of reporting this are in place. However, some staff expressed a lack of confidence in these processes. Better processes need to be put in place to ensure fair and consistent investigation and determination of misconduct, and the assessment of its severity. The proportionality of decisions relating to suspension, resignation and retirement, while officers are under investigation, needs further consideration. The timeliness of the investigation of professional standards needs to be improved. The capacity and capability of the professional standards unit is limited. Some policies that promote integrity need review and revision, including the business interests policy and the gifts and hospitality policy.
What are the public perceptions of the force?
HMIC considers that there are two sources of data that give an insight into the public’s perceptions of its police force: the Crime Survey for England and Wales, and the Victim Satisfaction Survey. The data for West Midlands Police show that: Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013)
- 57 percent of adults surveyed think that the police do an excellent/good job, which is less than the figure across England and Wales of 61 percent.
- 58 percent of adults surveyed agree that the police deal with local concerns, which is broadly in line with the England and Wales proportion of 60 percent.
Victim Satisfaction Survey (12 months to June 2014)
- 83.7 percent (± 0.4 percent) of victims were satisfied with their experience which is less than the figure across England and Wales of 85.0 percent (± 0.2 percent).
To what extent does the force respond to calls for service appropriately?
The value for money inspection found West Midlands Police had set a clear performance standard for response times and this had remained the same since 2010. The inspection found that during this time, the proportion of calls attended within these standards for both ‘immediate’ and ‘prompt’ calls had declined. The crime data integrity inspection found that a central team within the audit and compliance unit called back a proportion of people who had reported incidents or crimes, and more formal surveys were undertaken by the organisation and its service development department. The domestic abuse inspection found that there were good systems within the control room to identify victims who have reported domestic abuse previously. However, several databases needed to be checked for relevant information as they were not integrated. The force did not use specific criteria to define or identify domestic abuse repeat or vulnerable victims; however, all staff recognised that any previous report of domestic abuse or circumstances making the victim especially vulnerable would influence the service provided. The control room operators were trained to question callers and therefore ascertain level of risk. Usually they sent a uniformed officer immediately or within an hour, dependent on their assessment of the risk. Officers are only required to carry out formal victim risk assessments where a crime has been committed involving intimate partners or ex-partners, and the force cannot be confident that all victims are consistently getting access to the services they need from the police and its partners. There is an expectation that frontline supervisors will attend all serious and repeat incidents of domestic abuse, but this expectation is not adhered to consistently across the force area.
To what extent are the data and information provided by the force of a high quality?
The crime data integrity inspection examined 341 incident records and found that 332 crimes should have been recorded. Of the 332 crimes that should have been recorded, 328 were actually recorded. Of the 328, 13 were wrongly classified and 10 were recorded outside the 72-hour limit allowed under the Home Office Counting Rules. Victims should have confidence that when they report a crime to West Midlands, it will be recorded. The force also had a centralised crime management unit through which HMIC estimated that the force recorded approximately 26 percent of the total of its recorded crime. This unit recorded reports of crime directly from members of the public which did not require the creation of an incident record. Our inspection of this unit (a review of 100 calls from the public) found that of the 124 crimes that should have been recorded, 121 were recorded correctly. This approach to crime-recording for the force was also highly effective. The inspection also examined 92 no-crime records and found 70 records to be compliant with Home Office Counting Rules and National Crime Recording Standard. The child protection inspection found the force lacked understanding about how to record information that had come to its attention and there was insufficient guidance in some frontline teams. The inspection found a lack of general child protection awareness in some frontline teams and inconsistent supervisory oversight, which may have accounted for the poor recording and quality of information in some cases.