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West Midlands PEEL 2018

Effectiveness

How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?

Last updated 01/05/2019
Good

Overall, West Midlands Police is effective at reducing crime and keeping people safe, but it needs to improve how it protects vulnerable people.

The force has a good understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability in its area. Officers and staff are well informed about the causes and signs of vulnerability.

The force needs to improve its response when a vulnerable person calls the control room. Control room staff do not consistently apply the THRIVE risk assessment to incoming calls. The force receives a high volume of calls and needs to make sure backlogs in response do not build up. Control room supervision needs to improve.

West Midlands Police has tackled the more serious problems we identified in control room procedures in 2018. It also plans to replace the command and control system in 2019.

The force’s first response to incidents involving vulnerable people is adequate, although high demand remains a problem. The way it manages offenders is generally effective, but high staff workloads are common.

The mental health triage service is effective. The force does not use police cells to detain people who are experiencing mental health problems.

Officers attending domestic abuse incidents must complete a domestic abuse stalking and harassment (DASH) risk assessment. But they are not doing so at every incident and some assessments lack important information.

In 2016, we judged the force’s effectiveness at preventing and investigating crime as good. We didn’t inspect these areas in 2018, but we did note that high demand for the force’s services remains a challenge. In 2017, we judged the force’s effectiveness at tackling serious and organised crime to be good.

Questions for Effectiveness

3

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

Requires improvement

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure that control room staff consistently apply THRIVE+ and other risk assessment tools, to the correct standard and recording.
  • The force should improve the quality and consistency of supervision in the control room to support effective operational work and management of backlogs of non-emergency incidents.
  • The force should increase the number and quality of DASH risk assessments completed at domestic abuse incidents, giving greater support and protection for victims and their families.

West Midlands Police and its workforce have a good understanding of vulnerability in the force’s area.

However, the force needs to improve how it assesses risk and manages the response to vulnerable people when they contact the police. Control room staff need to use risk assessment tools consistently, making sure they complete them with the appropriate level of detail.

The force needs to improve supervisory oversight in the control room to support effective operational work and help manage backlogs of non-emergency incidents. Some parts of the control room are working better than last year. Many control room staff are positive about their work and have a strong desire to provide a better service to the public.

West Midlands Police responds to incidents involving vulnerable people adequately. The force prioritises incidents involving vulnerable people.

Officers attending domestic abuse incidents must complete a DASH risk assessment. These risk assessments are vital for effective short and long-term safeguarding of victims and their families. We found officers are still not completing DASH assessments at every domestic abuse incident and some assessments lack important information.

West Midlands Police is committed to supporting vulnerable victims. In general, officers and staff provide good levels of support, in spite of high workloads. The force has effective joint working arrangements with partner agencies.

Last year, we identified that the force needed to improve the way it manages missing people. The force is now managing these investigations more consistently. But the control room’s initial recording and risk assessment of missing people still needs improvement.

Detailed findings for question 3

5

How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?

Ungraded

We have previously inspected how well forces provide armed policing. This formed part of our 2016 and 2017 effectiveness inspections. Subsequent terrorist attacks in the UK and Europe have meant that the police service maintains a focus on armed capability in England and Wales.

It is not just terrorist attacks that place operational demands on armed officers. The threat can include the activity of organised crime groups or armed street gangs and all other crime involving guns. The Code of Practice on the Police Use of Firearms and Less Lethal Weapons (PDF document) makes forces responsible for implementing national standards of armed policing. The code stipulates that a chief officer be designated to oversee these standards. This requires the chief officer to set out the firearms threat in an armed policing strategic threat and risk assessment (APSTRA). The chief officer must also set out clear rationales for the number of armed officers (armed capacity) and the level to which they are trained (armed capability).

Some forces in England and Wales have joint arrangements in place to provide armed policing. West Midlands Police is of such a size that it can provide its own armed capability.

Detailed findings for question 5