Concerns raised over Warwickshire Police's efficiency in new report

Warwickshire Police
Warwickshire Police

Concerns raised over Warwickshire Police's efficiency in new report

The HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services has today (Friday) published a report, after a visit in March, into the performance of Warwickshire Police.

In the latest report inspectors found that Warwickshire Police: are ‘good’ in effectively reducing crime and keeping people safe; ‘requires improvement’ in operating efficiently and providing sustainable services to the public; and are ‘good’ in the way it treats the public and its workforce.

In the report HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said: “Warwickshire Police is performing well in some areas; however I have serious concerns about the force’s efficiency.

"In view of these findings, I have been in regular contact with the chief constable, because I do not underestimate the challenges ahead.

“The force is good at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour (ASB).

"The neighbourhood teams understand community issues and work well with other agencies to resolve local problems. The force has improved how it protects vulnerable people. It works closely with partners to ensure that it safeguards victims.

“But it needs to improve the way it investigates crime and how swiftly it brings offenders to justice.

"I am concerned that crimes are not always allocated to appropriately trained staff, and that they are not investigated thoroughly enough or supervised effectively.

“The force currently provides many of its services through an alliance with West Mercia Police, an arrangement that will end in October 2019.

"I am concerned that there is no certainty as to how it will provide these services in the future. Warwickshire Police has a good understanding of the demands for its services but needs to fully anticipate future pressures.

“The force continues to uphold an ethical culture and promote standards of professional behaviour well. However, it needs to make sure that training in relation to legislative powers, such as the use of force by officers, is maintained.

“I commend the progress that Warwickshire Police has made in some areas and will continue to monitor the force’s progress in areas where improvements are still needed.”

In the report HMICFRS has also focused on how forces manage the risks associated with officers and staff who abuse their position for a sexual purpose.

It also says that 'Warwickshire Police views abuse of position for a sexual purpose as a serious corruption risk. It has an effective and comprehensive plan in place to tackle it. It should continue to promote awareness among its workforce, including supervisors, of the risks of abuse of position for a sexual purpose.'

Response from Police Commissioner Philip Seccombe

In response to the report, Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said: “First and foremost I welcome the view of HMICFRS that Warwickshire Police is good at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour, understanding community issues and working with other agencies to resolve local problems.

"This is something that our residents are rightly very concerned about, so I am pleased that the work the force and my office have been undertaking to improve these areas of work have been recognised independently.

“Equally, the force has a mission statement of protecting people from harm and aims to be great at protecting the most vulnerable in society. This inspection report recognises the improvements that have been made in this area and praises the way it works closely with partners to safeguard victims.

“However, the report also makes clear the very difficult circumstances the force has been placed into over the past 11 months. The unilateral decision by the Chief Constable and PCC for West Mercia Police to end the strategic alliance, which had delivered shared services to the two forces over the past seven years, has been extremely challenging.

"It was not something Warwickshire Police had expected, so it has taken months of detailed planning work to ensure that the force moves forward in the best possible way.

“The report is based on the visit that the inspectors made back in March and so their concerns reflect their assessment of the force’s position at that time.

"In the six months since then, there has been significant progress in the force’s planning and in the discussions with West Mercia and I therefore believe that the picture is now very different.

“The force has developed its Evolve programme to deliver a new and exciting operating model, which will see many of the currently shared services returning to being based within Warwickshire, while a establishing some new collaborative working arrangements to reap the benefits of shared service delivery.

"Warwickshire has always been one of the smallest forces in the country and has always worked with partners to provide the services needed to keep people safe and this will continue to be the case.

“We are now in the advanced stages of negotiations with West Mercia Police to finalise the transition arrangements out of the strategic alliance.

"I am confident that the due diligence that has gone into redesigning Warwickshire Police after the conclusion of the strategic alliance will ensure the public of Warwickshire continue to receive an excellent police service going forwards and that this will be recognised in future inspection reports.”

The report also highlighted concerns with the way in which the force investigates
crime, with capacity and capability issues meaning that some crimes take too long to
bring to an outcome.

Mr Seccombe said: “The rising levels of demand have placed a strain on the force’s capacity to investigate some types of crime, alongside a shortage of experienced detectives, something that all forces nationally have faced. There are also issues within the wider criminal justice system which have a negative impact on the police’s ability to progress investigations to court speedily.

"My office has done considerable work to examine the underlying issues and I have raised my concerns with the Chief Constable and other criminal justice agencies that victims are waiting too long for an outcome.

"As a result, I know that there has been work to address these issues within the new policing model.

“In addition, I have financed the use of experienced police staff investigators to bolster the capacity of the force to investigate crime, while the investments I have made in new police officers over the past year, means that the force is now in a better position to release experienced officers into investigative roles.

"By the year end there will be around 170 more officers in Warwickshire, while will include transferees from other forces alongside newly trained detectives."

Response from Warwickshire Police Force Chief Constable

Speaking today, Chief Constable Martin Jelley said: “The latest HMICFRS inspection report highlights that we are a force committed to protecting people from harm. A good number of our grades, including in the areas of preventing crime, protecting vulnerable people and tackling serious and organised crime, have increased since last year thanks to the tireless efforts of our dedicated officers, staff and volunteers.

“This has been achieved against a backdrop of significant uncertainty and unprecedented change following the unilateral decision of the Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner of West Mercia to terminate our strategic alliance arrangements in October 2018.

"Since this time the force has carried out extensive work to consider how best to move forward. When the inspection took place, in March, we were only part way through our detailed planning work and our gradings reflect this.

"However significant progress has been made since this time and we are confident that our new arrangements for the future will address the points raised by the inspectorate.

“The force is now focused on implementing strong and positive arrangements which balance local governance and accountability with collaborative partnerships to deliver the best possible protection to people in our county.

"The plans we are now implementing will ensure we build on the strengths Warwickshire Police has enjoyed across its 162-year history.

“We will clearly ensure that all of the areas highlighted by HMICFRS are given due attention to improve these in the coming months but look forward to the new era Warwickshire Police is now entering.”