West Mercia 2017Read more about West Mercia 2017
This is HMICFRS’ fourth PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of West Mercia 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 is not yet graded.
The extent to which the force is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
The extent to which the force is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.
The efficiency and legitimacy inspection findings are published below.
Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
My overall assessment of West Mercia’s performance will be published in spring 2018, following the publication of the effectiveness inspections in March 2018.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
West Mercia Police is judged to be good in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our overall judgment this year is the same as last year. The force is judged to be good in its understanding of demand; its use of resources to manage demand is assessed to be good; and its planning for future demand is also judged to be good.
West Mercia Police has a good understanding of current and likely future demand and continually assesses its ability to respond effectively. Its strategic alliance with Warwickshire Police is a strength that has enabled both forces to make considerable savings. Forthcoming developments include the introduction of new control rooms, supported by advances in technology that include new command and control, intelligence and mobile data systems. These developments are timely, because the force is experiencing operational pressures within its control rooms, leading to inefficient processes for call-handling and crime management. The force is refining its new investigative model to improve how it manages crimes and transfer of investigations to officers with the right skills.
The force’s change programme is subject to firm governance, increasing the likelihood of benefits being realised and avoiding unintended consequences. The force exposes itself to external scrutiny to provide further validation and it engages with its workforce well, allowing officers and staff to influence future changes. There is a strong commitment to leadership development and the force’s new approach to talent management offers a good opportunity to identify and develop the most talented members of its workforce. Across the strategic alliance, there are mature arrangements in place supporting partnership work, and its change programme is ambitious and innovative.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
West Mercia Police is judged as requiring improvement in how legitimately it keeps people safe and reduces crime. For the areas of legitimacy we looked at this year, our overall judgment is less positive than last year when we assessed the force as good. The force requires improvement in some aspects of treating the people it serves with fairness and respect; it requires improvement in ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully; and it requires improvement in some aspects of treating its workforce with fairness and respect.
West Mercia Police is judged as requiring improvement in respect of how legitimately it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Although leaders clearly demonstrate that they understand and value the benefits of procedural justice, they need to provide the workforce with training so the force acts fairly, treats people with respect and communicates effectively. The force scrutinises its use of stop and search powers well, but it must improve its understanding of how its officers and staff use force. Reassuringly, the force encourages external scrutiny from different groups and acts on their feedback, but it would benefit from involving young people more.
West Mercia Police takes steps to ensure that its workforce makes decisions that are ethical. Its internal ethics committee is a new development that will provide officers and staff with opportunities to raise ethical questions and allow for learning to be passed on. The force needs to improve its handling of complaints and misconduct cases, including how it supports and communicates with complainants, witnesses and those subject to investigation. It needs to be consistent in handling cases that involve discrimination and it could do more to promote access to the complaints system for people who need extra assistance.
The force requires improvement in some aspects of treating its workforce with fairness and respect. Although it understands the importance of addressing potential disproportionality in the recruitment, retention and progression of officers and staff with protected characteristics (such as age, gender or sexuality), it does not monitor disproportionality in their treatment if they are subjected to complaint or misconduct investigations. Positively, leaders demonstrate a growing commitment to health and wellbeing, particularly support for mental health, and this is recognised by the workforce. The force is also working to improve how it manages and develops individual performance, but many of its initiatives are recent and their benefits cannot yet be determined. The introduction of continuing professional development provides West Mercia Police with the ability to identify leadership potential throughout its workforce; its leadership selection process is fair and transparent, and the workforce perceives it to be fair.
How well has the force performed in our other inspections?
In addition to the three core PEEL pillars, HMICFRS 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.