West Mercia PEEL 2014
How well the force tackles crime
West Mercia Police is good at reducing crime and preventing offending. The force is good at investigating crime. It is good at tackling anti-social behaviour.
West Mercia Police is in a strategic alliance with Warwickshire Police and across both forces HMIC found a strong response to preventing and reducing crime. Local neighbourhood teams in the force (called Safer Neighbourhood Teams or SNTs) have a good understanding of local priorities and work with partners to prevent crime effectively, manage high-risk offenders and safeguard victims, especially the most vulnerable and, in particular, victims of anti-social behaviour.
The force has invested resources to support victims and HMIC found frontline staff are committed to keeping them safe. There was generally an emphasis on conducting high quality investigations, although for some crimes officers could not maximise opportunities to gather evidence such as photographing injuries because specialist resource allocated to investigate crimes, such as child and/or domestic abuse, was not available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Further insights on effectiveness
The domestic abuse inspection found some effective work by West Mercia Police to tackle domestic abuse. However, there were several areas for improvement that the force needed to address before the public could be confident that victims of domestic abuse were provided with a consistent standard of service.
The crime inspection found that organised crime groups are mapped by the force intelligence team and prioritised according to threat, risk and harm. There were a number of examples seen around how organised crime group mapping had been used to target child sexual exploitation.
How effective is the force at reducing crime and preventing offending?
West Mercia Police has structures and processes in place to understand its demand and put the right resources in place to tackle this. It had an effective range of partnerships to tackle short term and long term problems in its communities.
The force uses a range of tactics to divert and disrupt offenders and to manage those who are assessed as higher risk.
How effective is the force at investigating offending?
West Mercia Police has a victim-centred approach and a strong focus on ensuring that the most vulnerable victims receive a service that is bespoke to the individual’s needs and, where appropriate, they receive a joined-up service from other agencies.
HMIC found good levels of scrutiny and supervision across risk assessment, victim contact and crime investigation. There was an emphasis on conducting high quality investigations and commitment to ensure sufficient specialist resources.
HMIC has concerns about the lack of access to specialist skills to investigate child protection cases over the weekend, and the fact that force policy on not taking photographs at certain crime scenes meant that opportunities to gather evidence could be lost.
How effective is the force at tackling anti-social behaviour?
The identification of and response to anti-social behaviour was evident among safer neighbourhood teams.
There was a clear understanding of the benefits of working with partner organisations to find suitable solutions to both short and longer term problems.
Across the alliance there was evidence of the use of restorative justice and community resolutions as appropriate outcomes.
How effective is the force at protecting those at greatest risk of harm?
The domestic abuse inspection found some effective work by West Mercia Police to tackle domestic abuse. However, there were several areas for improvement that the force needed to address before there could be confidence that victims of domestic abuse were provided with a consistent standard of service and that the risk to them was minimised.
The crime inspection found evidence that West Mercia had strong relationships with local domestic abuse support groups and Independent Domestic Violence Advisors. The inspection also reviewed Warwickshire and West Mercia’s joint domestic abuse action plan and found the action plan submitted only covered the HMIC force report recommendations. However, there appeared to be no action plan for either force in response to national priorities. This template requires forces to outline activity in line with the agreed national priorities for them to improve their response to domestic abuse.
How effective is the force at tackling serious, organised and complex crime?
The crime inspection found that organised crime groups are mapped by the force intelligence team and prioritised according to threat, risk and harm and, depending on the risk posed, they are allocated to lead responsible officers to manage. These can include local policing teams, where appropriate.
HMIC found a number of examples where organised crime group mapping had been used to target child sexual exploitation. Following specific operations to tackle child sexual exploitation, a review of gaps in intelligence had resulted in increased coverage of this area.
The value for money inspection found that West Mercia Police’s alliance with Warwickshire had provided greater resilience in specialist roles, particularly in combating firearms, serious, organised and major crimes.
How effective is the force at meeting its commitments under the Strategic Policing Requirement?
There was no Strategic Policing Requirement inspection for this force.