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West Midlands PEEL 2017

Effectiveness

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

Last updated 22/03/2018
Requires improvement

West Midlands Police requires improvement in how effectively it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Although it has made progress in some areas since 2016, we found serious failings in its ability to protect vulnerable people from harm.

Many of the services provided by the force to vulnerable people are good, but our most recent inspection found that it is failing to protect some victims adequately. Staff are generally good at identifying vulnerable people when they first contact the police, but at the time of our inspection there were often not enough officers available to respond to incidents quickly when required. This means that victims – including some who are vulnerable – do not always receive the response they need, and may be put in danger as a result. It also means that in some cases the force is missing opportunities to secure evidence, which can undermine the quality of subsequent investigations. Following our inspection, the force immediately took steps to address these concerns and services have improved as a result.

By contrast, the force is good at tackling serious and organised crime and has made major improvements in this area since 2016. The force has greatly improved its understanding of organised crime threats, including urban street gangs, and it works well with partners to develop this understanding. It is effective at disrupting organised criminals and places a strong emphasis on preventing serious and organised crime. A wide range of activities is in place to help the force deter those at risk of being drawn into this type of offending. However, we found that the force does not have a consistent and structured process for the management and enforcement of serious crime prevention orders.

West Midlands Police has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national policing responsibilities, and to respond initially to an attack requiring an armed response.

Questions for Effectiveness

3

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

West Midlands Police’s approach to protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims is inadequate.

The force understands the nature and scale of vulnerability in the force area and has developed effective arrangements with partner organisations to support vulnerable people.

Positively, the force is:

  • good at identifying vulnerability, conducting initial risk assessments and determining the most appropriate police response;
  • generally good at investigating crimes involving vulnerable victims and allocates them to appropriately trained specialist investigators; and
  • has improved how it administers caseloads of officers who manage registered sex offenders.

However, we found serious failings in its ability to protect vulnerable people from harm, despite progress made since our 2016 inspection.

In particular, we found:

  • a lack of available resources to respond to incidents quickly, causing unacceptable backlogs and a failure to understand the associated risk;
  • victims do not always receive the appropriate response, and may be endangered as a result;
  • some investigations are being undermined by lost opportunities to secure evidence;
  • risk assessment forms are not always completed for domestic abuse incidents, meaning effective safeguarding is not always put in place; and
  • categorising missing or absent children should be improved, as well as the initial investigation of missing persons cases.

Following our inspection, the force immediately took steps to address these concerns and services have improved as a result.

Inadequate

Cause of concern

The force is failing to attend incidents promptly, putting some vulnerable victims at risk of harm.

Recommendations

The force should immediately take steps to:

  • fully understand the risk contained within the backlog of open incidents logged by the control room, and prioritise these cases for action; and
  • ensure that victims – particularly those who are vulnerable – receive an appropriate response when they contact the force for safety reasons.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should improve its response to missing and absent children by ensuring that these cases are correctly categorised.
  • The force should provide regular and active supervision in missing person investigations to improve quality and ensure that victims are properly safeguarded.
  • The force should ensure the risks posed by registered sex offenders are managed effectively.
4

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

West Midlands Police responds well to serious and organised crime (SOC) and has made major improvements in this area since our 2016 inspection. In particular, the force has:

  • improved its understanding of organised crime threats, and works well with partners to develop this understanding further;
  • developed how it identifies and assesses organised crime groups (OCGs);
  • prioritised prevention of SOC and is effective in disrupting organised criminals; and
  • a wide range of programmes to deter those at risk of being drawn into SOC.

However, the force should do more to involve local policing teams in the disruption of OCGs. It should also introduce a process for the management and enforcement of serious crime prevention orders.

Good

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure that the workloads of lead responsible officers are not excessive so that they can properly manage organised crime groups over their active lifespan.
  • The force should ensure that serious crime prevention orders are routinely considered as part of the force’s approach to preventing serious and organised crime, and that robust arrangements are in place for their monitoring and enforcement.
5

How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?

National threats often require forces to work together, across force boundaries. These threats include terrorism, large-scale disorder and civil emergencies. We examined the capabilities in place to respond to these threats, in particular a firearms attack.

Most positively, the force:

  • works constructively with other organisations to build its capabilities to respond to national threats;
  • tests its skills in training exercises; and
  • has fulfilled its commitment to a programme to boost armed policing in England and Wales.

However, the force should:

  • make better use of analysis of the time taken for armed officers to attend firearms incidents.

Ungraded