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West Midlands Police has today unveiled a new ‘Blueprint’ outlining how it will take the force into a new era of policing.

Working with our partner Accenture, the vision was developed in consultation with colleagues, partners and the public. 

Put simply, it sets out how the force will look, feel and operate by 2020. 

Developing the Blueprint involved an extensive period of consultation including almost 5,000 responses from WMP staff during a series of internal roadshows and surveys; 11 events with partners across the seven local authority areas; 80 internal and external workshops and over 1,600 replies to a week-long public social media campaign. 

The Blueprint centres on four main themes:

  • Designed to listen and reassure −adopting a new approach to working with the public, partners and each other
  • Geared to prevent harm − preventing crime and offending before people can be harmed
  • Prepared to respond at pace − adopting a more agile, mobile and effective response to problems in communities
  • Ready to learn and adapt – becoming a more active and innovative learning organisation

It comes at a time when the organisation is facing unprecedented financial challenges − with anticipated savings to be made in the region of £130m over the four next years, on top of savings of £125m already made.

Set against the financial backdrop, the Blueprint acknowledges the force will need to become smaller, faster and smarter in how it operates to make the force more effective. In practice, this means that as well as making a range of non-staff savings, the force will need to operate with a further reduction of some 2,500 officer and staff posts. 

The Blueprint is a high level document that gives us a clear direction of what we want to achieve in the next few years but it does not, nor intends to, describe in detail the structure of the force or outline any possible future modelling. 

The Blueprint reflects the growing use of technology and digital engagement used by the public, such as empowering victims and witnesses to self-serve by giving them the choice on how they report and track incidents. 

It also signals a more proactive approach, with much more focus upon preventing crime. This will include an expansion of the force’s Integrated Offender Management approach to prolific offenders, which has attracted widespread national interest and support. The force will also look at integrating how it works with other agencies in the way that it has with the mental health triage scheme. 

One of the critical elements of the Blueprint will be to protect the future of neighbourhood policing by changing how it is run in the face of continued financial pressures − with resources focused on areas of most need. 

To achieve this and to ensure service delivery is not compromised, the force will look to develop a neighbourhood policing model which is not constrained by geographical boundaries. 

Currently it works within a restrictive fixed 10 local policing unit model, working within the seven local authority areas. By 2020 the aim will be to move to “mission-led” teams who possess the best local intelligence on areas and can quickly access solutions to be able to help neighbourhoods. 

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Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “Despite the financial climate, it will allow WMP to continue to work within the heart of communities protecting the people of the West Midlands”. 

“We are doing all we can to ensure we can deliver what the public needs and desires.”

“Over the next five years we will be working hard to introduce new technology that will enable officers to work more effectively in serving the public.” 

“This challenge to our current way of working is based on evolution, not revolution,” continued Chris Sims. 

“We are continuing to build on the foundations we have already put in place which have helped us become one of the most successful forces in the country. 

“In addition to the achievements we have had in tackling crime, we also lead the country in a number of areas such as offender management, evidenced-based policing and integrity and crime recording. The Blueprint will see us continue to invest heavily in those areas. 

“For me the most important element of the Blueprint is that we get the best for the communities we serve.”

“We are currently at a point where budgets for policing and partners are retracting at a level never seen before, technology is advancing and society is changing − so policing is at a critical point,” said Chief Constable Chris Sims.

“We need to respond to and reflect those changes − becoming a smaller, faster, smarter service that is responsive to the needs of local communities.

“Neighbourhood policing is key to our relationships with communities. However, in the face of our financial challenges, we must now re-look at the various services delivered through the national policing model so we secure the elements that matter most to the public.

“We will also look to develop our online presence. We are not and never want to be a techno organisation − policing is about people – but we have to operate with data in a modern way and be accessible in a way people expect in the 21st century. 

“Although this Blueprint has been accelerated by the austerity cuts, it is something that we would have done in any event because it’s the right thing to do. I believe it is the first step in moving to an entirely new era of policing and will be instrumental in shaping how forces across the country start to change their services.”

A complex and detailed programme of work will now be developed with a series of interconnected projects which will all contribute to realising the Blueprint’s vision for 2020.

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