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West Midlands 2015

Read more about West Midlands 2015

This is HMIC’s second assessment of the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy with which West Midlands Police keeps people safe and reduces crime. PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) gives you information about how your local police force is performing in several important areas. It does this in a way that is comparable both across England and Wales, and year-on-year.

The extent to which West Midlands Police is effective at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.

The extent to which West Midlands Police is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime is outstanding.

The extent to which West Midlands Police is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.

This year, for the first time, we have assessed leadership across the force. The assessment has led to a narrative rather than graded judgment, which is summarised below.

Read more about my assessment of West Midlands Police’s performance this year, including exceptional events and where I would like to see improvements next year.

Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary

Read the transcript of the video

Contact Wendy Williams

HMI’s observations

I would like to congratulate West Midlands Police on its performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime, which is particularly impressive given the complexity of its operating environment.

The arrangements for preventing crime and anti-social behaviour are good, as is the quality of investigations. The force is clearly committed to protecting vulnerable people, although improvements are needed in its understanding and assessment of the risks faced by some, particularly missing children and victims of domestic abuse. Good arrangements are in place to tackle serious and organised crime in Birmingham East, but elsewhere, more consistency is needed.

West Midlands Police is exceptionally well prepared to face future financial challenges. I continue to be impressed by its robust management of finances and demands for services. The force has embarked on an ambitious and innovative five-year change programme in collaboration with a commercial partner. The programme is expected to transform the operating model into one based on preventative policing rather than reactive policing, with the aim of reducing costs.

I am particularly impressed with the force’s emphasis on continuously improving the services that it provides to the public. I am also encouraged by the force’s determined efforts to recruit more black, Asian or minority ethnic people to make the workforce more representative of the community it serves.

Description of force area

West Midlands Police provides policing services to the metropolitan area of the West Midlands. There are areas of deprivation and affluence in the West Midlands. Around 2.8 million people live in a predominantly urban setting. The force covers the West Midlands conurbation, including the cities of Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry and large surrounding townships. The resident population is ethnically very diverse, with 30 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and is increased by a large number of university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise in, commute into, or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure includes major rail stations and a major airport.

The proportion of areas in the West Midlands that are predicted to present a very high challenge to the police is higher than the national average. These are characterised by social deprivation or a concentration of commercial premises (including licensed premises), and in some cases both.

Exceptional events

The force deployed large numbers of officers to police protest marches involving supporters of the English Defence League, as well as counter demonstrations. The costs involved in policing such events attracted widespread media coverage.

A resurgence of gun-related incidents in the West Midlands towards the end of 2015 prompted the new chief constable to acknowledge the concerning regularity of shootings and the need to re-double efforts to bring those responsible to justice.

Working arrangements

The force has innovative arrangements with a strategic commercial partner, to implement its 2020 change programme. While West Midlands Police is mainly self-sufficient, the force collaborates with Staffordshire Police in fulfilling firearms licensing arrangements and with several other forces in the Central Motorway Patrol Group partnership.

During the past year the chief constable retired and a new chief constable (the former deputy chief constable) and new deputy chief constable were appointed.

Effectiveness

In our effectiveness inspection, we judged West Midlands Police to be good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force operates effectively at preventing crime and standards of investigation are generally high. Furthermore, the force works well with partners to manage the most harmful offenders. The force is clearly committed to protecting the vulnerable; however improvements are needed in its understanding of the risks faced by vulnerable people, particularly missing children. Good arrangements are in place to tackle serious and organised crime in Birmingham East but elsewhere more consistency is needed. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so a year-on-year comparison is not possible.

Efficiency

West Midlands Police is exceptionally well prepared to face its future financial challenges. The force demonstrates robust management of its current demand, its finances and its plans for change. Its direction of travel is one of improvement from an already strong base. The force has embarked on an impressive five-year change programme to transform how it intends to provide policing. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the previous spending review period, West Midlands Police was judged to be outstanding.

Legitimacy

There is a strong ethical culture with good support for the wellbeing of the workforce. The Code of Ethics is made part of day-to-day practice, and we found no bias in any disciplinary investigations.

The force understands the importance of effective engagement and the role it plays in the legitimacy of the organisation. West Midlands Police engages well with the communities it serves, understands their concerns and treats them with fairness and respect. The force complies with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme and the use of Taser is fair and appropriate.

This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.

Leadership

West Midlands Police has a broad understanding of the current capacity and capability of its leadership at all levels in the organisation. It has shown there are clear links between skills audits and training. The force has set clear and consistent expectations for its leaders, although not all officers and staff have adopted these values and so the overall picture is variable.

A clear sense of its future direction has been communicated through its ‘WMP 2020’ programme which is well understood by the majority of the workforce. The force has clear and robust plans to develop an understanding of what leadership capabilities it will require in the future.

Insights from other inspections

HMIC undertakes other inspections in addition to the PEEL programme. Since the last PEEL assessment there have been five reports published on inspections that included West Midlands Police. More detail on some of these inspections can be found under the Other inspections section.

I would like to draw attention to our follow-up inspection on child protection, where I was encouraged to see improvements being made by the force. However, despite more staff being devoted to this work and the progress so far, the response to children at risk of sexual exploitation, or who go missing, requires improvement. We also recommended that the force prioritised the training and supervision of its extra child protection staff.

I was very pleased to find that West Midlands is one of only three forces nationally that is prepared overall to protect and support victims of so-called honour-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation. It is also the only force where all the workforce whom we interviewed were confident in their awareness of these types of crime.

Looking ahead to PEEL 2016

In the year ahead, I will be interested to see how the force responds to this assessment, along with the causes of concern and areas for improvement that HMIC has identified in the last year.

I will be particularly interested to see:

  • the strategic direction set for the force by the new chief constable and his recently appointed deputy;
  • how the force improves its response to missing and absent children;
  • how the force improves the assessment of and its response to victims of domestic abuse; and
  • how the force continues its transformation from a predominantly reactive style of policing to one which is predominantly proactive in style.

In May 2016, like the majority of forces in England and Wales, the force will see the second elections for its police and crime commissioner.

 

 

Effectiveness

How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 18/02/2016
Good

Overall West Midlands Police is judged to be good at keeping people safe and reducing crime.

In terms of preventing crime the force operates effectively and standards of investigation are generally high. Furthermore the force works well with partners to manage the most harmful offenders. The force is clearly committed to protecting the vulnerable; however improvements are needed in its understanding of the risks faced by vulnerable people, particularly missing children. Good arrangements are in place to tackle serious and organised crime in Birmingham East but elsewhere more consistency is needed. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so a year-on-year comparison is not possible.

Force priorities demonstrate a strong commitment to reducing crime and anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe, with a shift of emphasis from a reactive style to more preventative policing. This commitment is well understood throughout the force, which works effectively with partner organisations at both force and neighbourhood level.

The force generally conducts effective investigations but officers do not consistently take opportunities to maximise the gathering of evidence during initial investigations. The force works well with partners to manage offenders and divert them from further criminality. Effective arrangements are in place with partners to manage offenders and successful elements of offender management are being increasingly used throughout the force. The force has good processes to identify and manage dangerous and sexual offenders. However issues of capacity within dedicated teams are limiting effectiveness.

West Midlands Police generally provides a good service to vulnerable victims. The force identifies vulnerable people at the earliest opportunity and responds well to them. However, further improvement is needed to ensure the service is consistent, and vulnerable people, particularly children, are kept safe.

HMIC found that the overall response to tackling organised crime groups in the West Midlands is good but there are some areas for improvement. These can be summarised as follows: neighbourhood officers could be more involved in this type of criminality; an assessment of organised crime activity exists for some but not all of the force area; and the force has yet to have a full understanding of the impact of its interventions against organised crime groups.

Investigations are well managed and supervised with a range of overt and covert tactics used. A prevent team has been set up to act on prevention opportunities. The force has mapped its capability against each of the six national policing threats. In addition to exercises the force’s involvement in real life operations enables it to test its preparedness to respond.

 

View the four questions for effectiveness

Efficiency

How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 20/10/2015
Outstanding

HMIC found that West Midlands Police is exceptionally well prepared to face its future financial challenges. The force has robust management of its current demand, its finances and its plans for change. Its direction of travel is one of improvement from an already strong base. The force has embarked on an impressive five-year change programme to transform how the force intends to deliver policing. In last year’s valuing the police inspection programme, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, West Midlands Police was judged to be outstanding.

HMIC judges West Midlands Police to be outstanding. The force has a good understanding of current demand and is able to match its resources to that demand. The force is working to understand future demand but this analysis is less well-developed. This means that there is a risk that its future operating model is shaped by available finances without a full understanding of the capacity and capability required to meet future demand.

The force has embarked on an impressive change programme, WMP2020, a five-year programme to transform how the force intends to deliver policing. The programme includes strong contract management of its commercial partner and careful contingency planning for possible risks. The programme is one of the most ambitious and far-reaching of any police force and, if successful, should place West Midlands among the best police forces in the country. However, implementation of the individual projects is only just beginning and it is too early to judge the programme’s success and whether the ambition can be realised.

The force has a strong financial position with strong financial management. This has allowed it to make confident decisions, for example in its contract management of its commercial partner and its lack of reliance on collaboration and other income sources. The force has large reserves which it is reducing by making prudent use of them to support its WMP2020 programme and to make provision for a range of possible financial risks.

The force has strong workforce planning and is developing the skills of its officers. It understands the current and projected capacity and capability of its workforce based on the likely progression of its officers, but recognises that the age and rank profiles of some officers places limitations on the development of the future operating model.

 

View the three questions for efficiency

Legitimacy

How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 11/02/2016
Good

West Midlands Police has a strong ethical culture with good support for the wellbeing of staff. The Code of Ethics is part of day-to-day practice, and we found no bias in any disciplinary investigations.

The force understands the importance of effective engagement and the role it plays in the legitimacy of the organisation. West Midlands Police engages well with the communities it serves, understands their concerns and treats them with fairness and respect. The force complies with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme and the use of Taser is fair and appropriate.

This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.

HMIC found that West Midlands Police articulates its values effectively, and staff commented that an ethical culture is something they live and breathe. There is a comprehensive occupational health service, and the Code of Ethics has been incorporated into relevant training. Practical understanding of the code is enhanced using an online debate about real-life dilemmas.

HMIC considered that West Midlands Police is taking positive steps to ensure that complaints and misconduct matters for officers and staff are being dealt with fairly and consistently.

When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and engages with all the people it serves, we found that there is a good understanding of the communities it serves; the force engages effectively and staff at all levels of the organisation understand the importance of effective engagement in police legitimacy. The force uses a range of tailored methods, from social media to conventional face-to-face meetings to seek the views of the community and provide feedback and reassurance. It actively consults with the people it serves to identify their preferred method of engagement. As a result, the people of West Midlands can be reassured that the force understands the importance of treating people with fairness and respect and tailors its engagement to suit diverse communities.

Stop and search and Taser are two ways that the police can prevent crime and protect the public. However, they can be intrusive and forceful methods, and it is therefore vital that the police use them fairly and appropriately. HMIC found that there is effective strategic oversight and governance of the use of stop and search powers in West Midlands Police, but that the force needs to publish the full range of data required by the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. There is a comprehensive understanding, oversight and scrutiny of the use of Taser and a willingness and ability to share data with the public. HMIC concluded that West Midlands Police complies with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme and the use of Taser is fair and appropriate.

View the four questions for legitimacy

Other inspections

How well has the force performed in our other inspections?

In addition to the three core PEEL pillars, HMIC carries out inspections of a wide range of policing activity throughout the year. Some of these are conducted alongside the PEEL inspections (for instance, our 2016 leadership assessment); others are joint inspections.

Findings from these inspections are published separately to the main PEEL reports, but are taken into account when producing the rounded assessment of each force's performance.

Leadership

Last updated 25/02/2016

As part of HMIC’s annual all-force inspections into police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL) in 2015, HMIC assessed how well led forces are at every rank and grade of the organisation and across all areas inspected in PEEL. We reviewed how well a force understands and is developing its leaders; whether it has set a clear and compelling future direction; and how well it motivates and engages the workforce.

West Midlands Police has a broad understanding of the current capacity and capability of its leadership at all levels in the organisation. It has shown there are clear links between skills audits and training. The force has set clear and consistent expectations for its leaders although not all officers and staff have adopted these values so the overall picture is variable.

A clear sense of its future direction has been communicated through its ‘WMP 2020’ programme which is well understood by the majority of the workforce although not by everyone. Currently, the force does not understand what leadership capabilities it will require in the future but it has clear and robust plans to develop this understanding.

View the four questions for leadership

Other reports

Last updated 22/02/2016

This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of West Midlands Police.

View other reports

Key facts

Force Area

348 square miles

Population

2.81m people 9% local 10 yr change

Workforce

79% frontline 78% national level
3.9 per 1000 population 3.6 national level
17% change in local workforce since 2010 15% national change since 2010

Victim-based crimes

0.06 per person 0.05 national level
Local 5 year trend National 5 year trend (no change)

Cost

54p per person per day local 55p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

The force continues to provide a wide range of policing services to meet the challenges of a dynamic and diverse region.

The area faces the most significant challenge of terrorism and extremism outside London. The force is a national lead in the delivery of Counter Terrorism.

Police and crime plan priorities

The Police and Crime Plan includes commitments to increase public confidence in policing, while sustaining the downward pattern in recorded crime. The theme running through the Plan is a commitment to “Pride in Our Police” and a focus on hate crime, stop and search, safer travel and protecting the most vulnerable members of society.