West Mercia PEEL 2017
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 well does the force understand demand?
The force has a good understanding of demand overall, and its appreciation of the different levels of resources that different types of investigations require is increasing. This is reassuring because the alliance cannot be certain it has a comprehensive understanding of internal demand. The force has a good understanding of hidden demand, including modern day slavery, human trafficking and radicalisation, and it adapts its operational procedures to respond to changes in demand. The alliance has advanced plans to introduce new control rooms and related technologies. These developments are timely because the force is experiencing difficulties with its current call-handling performance, especially 101 calls, meaning that some callers may be exposed to harm, of which the alliance may never become aware. Crime management processes are also protracted, which could adversely affect the quality of service experienced by victims. The transfer of investigations under the force’s new investigation model is inconsistent and some response officers are being allocated complex cases that they do not possess the skills to carry out. However, the alliance’s change programme is subject to strong governance; there are effective and comprehensive arrangements in place that allow leaders and the wider workforce to influence developments and for individuals to be held to account for outcomes.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it has effective systems and processes in place that enable it to understand how efficiently its investigative model supports the transfer of investigations.
How well does the force use its resources?
West Mercia Police uses its resources well, helping it to provide an effective response to a broad range of local and regional issues. It is improving its understanding of the current and future skills and capabilities it needs and has made good progress through defining leadership competencies and focussing on leadership development. The force prioritises its activities based on its understanding of demand, priorities and public expectations. Partnerships are a consistent theme of the force’s approach and its alliance arrangements are serving it well. The force is clear about the areas it will invest in during future years and it has a sound appreciation of the benefits of collaboration. The force’s change programme is ambitious and innovative.
Areas for improvement
- The force should conduct a leadership skills audit that will allow it to understand leadership capacity and capability.
How well is the force planning for demand in the future?
West Mercia Police is planning for the future well. The force uses commonly recognised techniques to identify demands, although its analysis of future demand is still developing. The introduction of new ICT means the force should be able to realise further savings and is based on a thorough understanding of what the public expects, and how technology will improve policing. The force’s assessment of future savings requirements is based on sound assumptions. The force would benefit from completing a comprehensive audit of its future leadership requirements, to complement its introduction of continuous professional development (CPD) and its use of national schemes. The force’s change management programme is notable, blending technical and operational skills to good effect.