West Midlands 2016Read more about West Midlands 2016
This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of West Midlands Police. PEEL is designed to give the public information about how their local police force is performing in several important areas, in a way that is comparable both across England and Wales, and year on year. The assessment is updated throughout the year with our inspection findings and reports.
The extent to which the force is effective at keeping people safe and reducing crime: not yet graded.
The extent to which the force is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime is: outstanding.
The extent to which the force is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime is: good.
The efficiency and legitimacy inspection findings are published below. My overall assessment of West Midlands’ performance will be published in spring 2017.
Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
PEEL assessments are updated throughout the year, as the results of the different inspections and data collections become available. The graded judgments for effectiveness will be published in March 2017. See last year’s assessment of the force’s effectiveness.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
West Midlands Police has been assessed as outstanding in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force has a detailed understanding of current demand; it is working well to identify hidden crimes, and is making progress in evaluating future demand. It has a developing appreciation of the impact, scale and likelihood of future risk. The force manages its resources well to meet current demand. The central focus of the force’s plans for investment and managing demand in the future rest with its comprehensive and ambitious change 2020 programme, which aims to transform how it provides its services.
The force has a detailed understanding of current demand, which is based on an extensive range of information. It is working well with partners and the public to identify hidden crimes. It has reviewed practices across a number of functions to identify and remove inefficient internal processes. It has also made progress in evaluating future demand and has a developing appreciation of the impact, scale and likelihood of future risk. The force recognises the changing demographics in its region and the impact of changing public expectations. Its plans take into account the public’s readiness to access police services online. The force and its local partners are working to improve the management of demand and the delivery of public service through a number of collaborative arrangements, including plans for a West Midlands Combined Authority.
West Midlands Police manages its resources well to meet current demand. These are allocated in accordance with the force’s strategic assessment, which prioritises early intervention and prevention by police and partners. The force ensures that resources are matched to these priorities in a variety of effective ways.
For workforce skills and gaps, now and in the future, the force has a five year workforce plan in place with associated recruitment and promotion plans. Work is also being undertaken within the crime portfolio to develop a more detailed workforce plan to inform the overall corporate plan. In addition, departments assess current and future skills gaps on a quarterly basis, and this is then used to drive training delivery by the corporate learning and development function.
The central focus of the force’s plans for investment and managing demand in the future rest with its comprehensive and ambitious change 2020 programme, which aims to transform how it provides its services. The objective is to bring about a shift from reactive policing to a more preventive model, with a greater focus on partnership working and better use of IT. This programme is well led and managed and benefits realisation is tracked across each individual project to provide a consistent understanding of the whole system. Much of the 2020 change programme is focused on developing digital capability to enable the force to operate more efficiently and improve the way it provides services. It is conducted through a series of incremental changes and is progressing very well. More generally, the force has a strong record of achieving service efficiencies, having undertaken budgeting exercises over several years; the force estimates it has achieved savings of £60m.
The force is now using its substantial reserves to support the force’s change programme and it has £45m set aside for this specific purpose. Following a better than had been anticipated budgetary position, the force has conducted a review to re-calibrate its change programme with the intention of increasing value for money.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
West Midlands Police has been assessed as good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our findings this year are consistent with last year’s findings, in which we judged the force to be good in respect of legitimacy.
The force responds to the needs of its communities and the public is encouraged to have a voice. Vetting processes are mostly compliant with national guidance and the force deals effectively with corruption related intelligence. Workforce wellbeing is important to the force and recent changes should help it respond more effectively. The force needs to do more to ensure that performance and development are managed consistently and fairly.
The force treats the people it serves with fairness and respect. The force has adopted a new set of values, which focus on compassion for the vulnerable and helping those in need. The force is responsive to its communities, including groups that are harder to reach, and adjusts its engagement activities to encourage the different communities to have a voice. The force records an adequate range of information from its engagement activity, but would benefit from more systematic analysis and a structured process for responding effectively to public feedback.
The force ensures its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The force’s initial vetting arrangements are fair to all applicants and ensure it only recruits people with high ethical standards. Officers and staff show awareness of the required standards of behaviour. The force’s counter-corruption unit gathers and acts on information which identifies potential corruption and is reviewing resource levels for this unit as part of its change programme. The force recognises officers and staff abusing their authority for sexual gain as serious corruption. The force could, however, make better use of its community links to restore trust following high profile cases.
The force seeks feedback and challenge from its workforce and takes action to address this. The force is increasing its occupational health support capacity and investing in a new medical IT system to allow it to understand and respond more effectively to the workforce’s wellbeing needs. Its use of performance reviews to manage professional development is, however, inconsistent and it does not have effective scrutiny arrangements in place to ensure performance is being managed fairly and consistently across the force.
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.
Police leadership is crucial in enabling a force to be effective, efficient and legitimate. This inspection focused on how a force understands, develops and displays leadership through its organisational development.
West Midlands Police is developing its understanding of its leadership. The force has recently introduced a ‘leadership promise’, which clearly defines its expectations of its leaders.
During the extensive consultation which the force undertook in order to define these expectations, the workforce engaged positively, and we found that officers and staff at all ranks and grades understood the ‘leadership promise’. The force recognises that some aspects of leadership are weaker, including the approach to performance appraisal and absence management.
The force is developing its approach to enable a more sophisticated appraisal of the quality of leadership across the force. However, the inconsistent use of performance review is limiting the force’s understanding of leadership capabilities and gaps. Although the force provides a range of leadership development opportunities including secondments, temporary promotions and formal training programmes, it does not have a comprehensive and transparent approach to talent management. In the absence of this, it cannot ensure that it draws the best candidates from the widest possible pool of potential leaders. There is limited evidence that the force evaluates its leadership development programmes. The force could make better use of recruitment opportunities at higher ranks and grades to enhance its overall leadership capability.
The force is proactive at looking outside the police service to search for new ideas and methods. The force uses academics and professional bodies to review its practices, and to provide feedback across a broad range of police activities. By applying the learning to its local context, new approaches have been introduced quickly. We found new ideas and practices being trialled and communicated across the force. The force recognises the need to improve the diversity of its leadership teams but this focuses on progression of the black, Asian and minority ethnic workforce, and on increasing female representation. Beyond this, we found little evidence of how the force is attempting to increase the diversity of its leaders in terms of their skills, experience and background.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of West Midlands Police.