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HMIC to extend inspection remit to fire & rescue services

In order to reflect this new programme of inspections, HMIC will change its name to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS)

West Midlands PEEL 2016

Effectiveness

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

Last updated 02/03/2017
Good

West Midlands Police is good in respect of its effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime. It has an effective approach to preventing and investigating crime, but the support and safeguarding it provides to vulnerable victims need to improve. Our overall judgment this year is the same as last year, when we judged the force to be good in respect of effectiveness.

Although we found some areas for improvement, West Midlands Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime.

The force assesses calls from members of the public using a structured process, which ensures that an appropriate response is provided in the majority of cases. In many cases initial investigations are thorough, but this is not consistent.

Subsequently, the force’s investigations make good use of plans to structure investigative work. Managers provide effective supervision and the force gives the majority of victims a good service. The force is working effectively to manage the increased demand for examinations of computers and it is giving effective and timely support to investigations.

Previous causes of concern relating to the force’s management of missing persons and its approach to domestic abuse risk assessment have not been alleviated.

The force’s revised policy for managing cases of absent or missing persons places greater emphasis on gathering information and assessing risk at the first point of contact. However the force is not accurately assessing risks for missing persons consistently, and in some cases duty inspectors overlook relevant information. This creates the potential for vulnerable missing persons to be unnecessarily exposed to potential harm.

Officers do not consistently complete a domestic abuse risk-assessment when it is appropriate that they should do so. The force cannot be confident that all vulnerable victims of domestic abuse receive a response which has been tailored to their individual needs from all the public services which are able to help them.

The force is effective at recognising vulnerability associated with mental health. Street triage vehicles provide a 24/7 response and mental health professionals work in all of its custody areas. The force gives regular mental health training to front line officers and staff.

The overall number of suspects across the force who are wanted for domestic abuse offences has remained relatively stable for a sustained period. The force has an improved focus on outstanding domestic abuse offenders as part of its routine business.

The force regularly disrupts and investigates serious and organised crime (SOC) in collaboration with a wide range of other public service organisations. Use of all four elements of the 4Ps approach (pursue, protect, prevent, prepare) is increasing but is not yet entirely consistent practice.

The force has low numbers of organised crime groups (OCGs) per one million of population, particularly in comparison to other urban forces. The force intends to apply the OCG mapping methodology more broadly to incorporate more organised urban street gangs and other groups engaged in organised crime, which will allow it to target these groups with its SOC partners more effectively. The force has a variety of effective projects in place to deter people from becoming involved in serious and organised crime.

The force has the necessary arrangements in place to ensure its preparedness to respond to the national threats set out in the Strategic Policing Requirement. The force is well prepared to respond to a marauding terrorist firearms attack. It is increasing its armed capability, and is making excellent progress with recruitment and training in order to achieve this.

Questions for Effectiveness

1

How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?

West Midlands Police is effective at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. This is consistent with last year’s findings.

The force has a good understanding of the communities it serves. The force’s strategic assessment describes the threats faced by the public and concentrates on the demand associated with people who are vulnerable, and who have complex needs. The force produces local profiles to help its neighbourhood teams to understand the make-up of the community. However in some parts of the force these profiles are not used to their full extent.

The force uses a broad range of tailored methods of communicating with the public in order to understand and prioritise what matters most to the public. Many of these activities are conducted with other public services to help the force to reach groups who would not routinely talk directly to the police.

Good

Areas for improvement

  • The force should adopt a structured and consistent problem-solving process to enable it to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour more effectively. This activity should be evaluated regularly, and effective practice should be disseminated throughout the force.
  • The force should adopt a structured and consistent problem-solving process to enable it to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour more effectively.
2

How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?

Although we found some areas where the force can improve, West Midlands Police is good at investigating crime and reducing re-offending. This is consistent with our assessment in 2015 when we also judged the force as good at investigating crime and reducing re-offending.

The force assesses calls from members of the public using a structured process, which ensures that an appropriate response is provided in the majority of cases. In many cases initial investigations are thorough but this is not entirely consistent. Officers are redeployed from incidents on occasions when demand outstrips resources, which results in missed opportunities for the early gathering of evidence. The force’s revised grading policy and new response policing model are designed to help it to manage demand more effectively.

The force’s investigations make good use of investigation plans to structure investigations. Managers provide good supervision and investigative support. West Midlands Police has a broad range of effective intelligence and forensic capabilities which give good support to investigations. The force is working effectively to manage the increased demand for examinations of computers and it is giving effective and timely support to investigations.

The force gives the majority of victims a good service and achieves good results. Changes to the crime recording process in the form of mandatory victim contact plans ensure that officers give victims regular updates on the progress of investigations.

The force takes effective action to track and arrest outstanding suspects and the overall number of people who are wanted by the police is closely monitored.

Extensive and innovative use of integrated offender management (IOM) results in consistent reductions in re-offending by serial offenders. IOM methods are being increasingly applied to additional types of criminals such as domestic abuse offenders and gang members.

A lack of capacity has led to delays in routine visits to sexual offenders. Supervisors do not have sufficient capacity to quality-assure sexual offender risk assessments in a timely fashion.

Good

Areas for improvement

  • The force should improve its approach to reducing the risk posed by dangerous and sexual offenders by ensuring that:
    • it improves how it manages the caseload of sex offender managers so that routine visits and risk assessments are conducted in a timely manner; and
    • sexual offender management unit supervisors have sufficient capacity to quality-assure all risk assessments in a timely manner.
3

How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?

West Midlands Police requires improvement in investigating offences involving vulnerable victims and working with other public service organisations to keep people safe. This is consistent with 2015 when we also judged the force as requiring improvement.

The force uses Operation Sentinel campaigns to raise awareness of crimes against vulnerable people. Its understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability would be enhanced by more up to date force-wide analysis of domestic abuse and modern-day slavery, and by expanding its use of the MORILE risk management process.

The force uses THRIVE(+), a variation of the THRIVE risk-assessment model, to assess in a structured manner all calls that are received from the public. Some staff and supervisors do not yet have a full understanding of the model’s application, which sometimes results in a delayed response.

The force’s revised policy for managing cases of absent and missing persons places greater emphasis on gathering information and assessing risk at the initial point of contact. However the force is not consistently accurately assessing risks for missing persons and in some cases duty inspectors overlook relevant information. This creates the potential for vulnerable missing persons to be unnecessarily exposed to potential harm.

The force is effective at recognising vulnerability associated with mental health. Street triage vehicles provide a 24/7 response and mental health professionals work in all of the force’s custody areas. The force provides regular mental health training to front line officers and staff.

The force addresses vulnerability in domestic abuse cases inconsistently at initial response. Officers are not consistently completing a domestic abuse risk-assessment in appropriate circumstances. The force cannot be confident that all vulnerable victims receive a multi-agency response which has been tailored to their individual needs.

The force allocates crimes committed against vulnerable victims to officers who have specialist skills. However, we found that investigation quality is variable, that investigative actions are sometimes being overlooked, and in some cases there is a lack of effective supervision. Demand is affecting the resilience of public protection officers and the force is considering increasing resources as part of its change programme.

The overall number of suspects across the force who are wanted for domestic abuse offences has remained relatively stable for a sustained period. The force has an improved focus on outstanding domestic abuse offenders as part of its routine business. The force collaborates effectively with other agencies in a number of areas to protect vulnerable people.

Requires improvement

Cause of concern

The force’s response to domestic abuse is a cause of concern to HMIC. The force policy which allows an officer discretion to complete a DASH risk assessment in some crimes and incidents does not provide confidence that risk is always assessed appropriately. This is an enduring cause of concern from HMIC’s report on vulnerability in 2015 and is one of the recommendations from HMIC’s report on its domestic abuse inspection in 2014 that still needs to be implemented. In cases where a DASH risk assessment is not completed the officer should record an assessment on the crime management system. HMIC found that officers are not consistently completing a DASH in circumstances where force policy requires that they should do so. This means that some victims of domestic abuse who may be at risk of harm are not being appropriately risk-assessed.

Recommendations

To address this cause of concern, HMIC recommends the force should immediately take steps to ensure that:

  • there is effective supervision of the initial risk assessment process, specifically in relation to the completion of DASH risk assessment in appropriate cases.

Cause of concern

The force’s response to missing and absent children is a cause of concern to HMIC. HMIC found that the assessment of risk for children who go missing from home was inappropriate in some cases. We found some instances where children were classed as ‘absent’ when they should have been recorded as ‘missing’, and risk levels for missing children were sometimes incorrectly assessed at a lower grade. We also found incidents where the risk had not been identified, even where good information was available on the police database. In some cases there was information to indicate that children were at risk of sexual exploitation, but this did not influence the assigned risk and categorisation. Children were incorrectly graded at a lower level and could have been exposed to an increased risk of harm. This is an enduring cause of concern from HMIC’s report on vulnerability in 2015.

Recommendations

To address this cause of concern the force should immediately review its approach to reports of missing children and take steps to ensure that:

  • call takers understand and use the missing and absent category appropriately;
  • call takers and frontline staff have the necessary knowledge to identify risk factors associated with child sexual exploitation and how to respond to such cases; and
  • supervisors provide the correct oversight of missing person enquiries and direct appropriate and timely investigative and safeguarding action.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should improve the quality of investigations involving vulnerable people, ensuring that the workloads of specialist investigators are manageable at all times and that such investigations are subject to regular and active supervision.
4

How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?

Although we found many effective practices, overall the force requires improvement at tackling serious and organised crime.

West Midlands Police has a good understanding of the threat and risk posed by serious and organised crime (SOC) developed in conjunction with the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Units. The force is actively using force-wide local SOC profiles to enhance its understanding of the threat. However the force’s overall understanding would be enhanced with more consistent use of the organised crime group mapping process.

However it now makes greater use of neighbourhood teams to gather intelligence and consistently uses a wide range of intelligence sources to develop its understanding. The force is effective at dynamically responding to changing threats such as firearms movements.

The force regularly disrupts and investigates serious and organised crime in collaboration with a wide range of other public service organisations. Use of all four elements of the 4Ps approach (pursue, prevent, protect, prepare) is increasing but is not yet entirely consistent practice. The force and its partners have now introduced multi-agency disruption panels to improve their assessment of the impact of activity on serious and organised crime.

The force has low numbers of OCGs per one million of population, particularly in comparison to other urban forces. The force intends to apply the OCG mapping methodology more broadly to incorporate more organised urban street gangs and other groups engaged in organised crime, which will allow it to target these groups with its SOC partners more effectively.

The force has a variety of effective projects in place to deter people from becoming involved in serious and organised crime. It makes good use of ancillary orders such as serious crime prevention orders and gang injunctions. It tracks members of organised crime groups into, through and beyond the prison system as part of a ‘lifetime’ approach to offender management.

The force’s communication with the public raises awareness of the threat from members of organised crime groups, provides crime prevention advice and deters offenders. Strong messages give local communities reassurance about the force’s response to serious and organised crime.

Good

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure that it maps all organised crime groups promptly following identification and re-assesses them at regular intervals in line with national standards.
  • The force should improve its approach to the management of serious and organised crime by ensuring that work to disrupt the criminal activities of OCGs to reduce the threat and harm from serious and organised crime is structured effectively around all four elements of the 4P approach – pursue, prevent, protect and prepare.
  • The force should continue to improve its understanding of the impact of its work on serious and organised crime across the 4Ps, and ensure that it learns from experience to maximise the force’s disruptive effect on this criminal activity.
5

How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?

West Midlands Police has effective specialist capabilities. The force has the necessary arrangements in place to ensure it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities. There is clear leadership for overseeing its preparedness to respond to the national threats set out in the Strategic Policing Requirement. The force conducts a formal assessment of the threats every year. The force exercises regularly with partner organisations and other emergency services to test its preparedness.

The force is well prepared to respond to an attack which requires an armed response. The force has thoroughly reviewed its assessment of the threat from such an attack. In response it has immediately adjusted shift patterns to increase its 24/7 armed policing capacity. The force is part of the national uplift programme, and is making excellent progress in recruitment and training to increase its firearms capability.

Ungraded