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Inspectors assessing the ethics and culture of UK police forces have concluded West Midlands Police understands the communities it serves, grasps the public’s concerns, and treats people fairly. 

Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) examined the force’s neighbourhood policing reach, how it speaks to the public, call handling and complaints procedure − and rated it ‘Good’ overall.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson today praised the force for its hard work – and vowed that improvements will continue.

The document also praised the sharing of Taser data via the Commissioner’s unique Police & Crime Board meetings − which are broadcast on the internet − and the joint action plan produced over stop and search powers.

Mr Jamieson said: “I would like to congratulate West Midlands Police for this positive report: the hard work of officers and staff is clearly paying off.

“I’m extremely pleased the report has picked up on the positive steps taken in regards to stop and search and the close links and scrutiny my office has on that issue. We will not get complacent on Stop and Search; there is more to be done and room for improvement.”

HMIC’s Legitimacy Report deemed that West Midlands Police had a focus on local policing with neighbourhood officers stationed across the region, used a range of communications to keep the public informed, and regularly surveyed residents’ views.

Inspectors listened to a sample of 40 calls made to the non-emergency 101 number and to 999 − finding call handlers polite and effective − and were equally happy with the customer service of front counter staff. 

West Midlands Police Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe said people need to believe officers are approachable and will treat them with respect.

She said: “The public we serve play a vital role in helping us keep our communities safe. In every interaction with one of our officers or staff − either face-to-face, on the phone or online − I want it to be a positive experience and that they leave with a feeling we’re on their side. 

“We listen to our communities and during the HMIC review period we surveyed almost 17,000 residents to better understand their views.”

West Midlands Police’s use of Taser and Stop and Search, plus its handling of public complaints were also scrutinised.

HMIC assessed West Midlands Police use of Taser as fair, lawful and appropriate, and that in many cases officers were using taser to defend themselves against weapons. 

And inspectors said the force overwhelmingly used Stop and Search powers correctly and that it effectively monitored the use of such powers on young people and members of black and Asian communities.

Inspectors also said they were “impressed by innovative technology” that allows a searched person to easily access information on police powers and how to give feedback via a web address and QR code. 

DCC Rolfe added: “We’ve noted there are some small areas for improvement: HMIC said they would like us to be more detailed when recording the outcome of stop and searches and we will address that point.”

It praised the force’s Positive Action programme − an initiative that’s successfully attracted increased officer applications from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups − and said it worked with communities on schemes like Speed Watch and crime prevention projects.

And inspectors said the public were kept well informed of police work through use of social media, plus more traditional engagement like leaflet drops, surgeries, community meetings and ‘Cuppa with a Copper’ for anyone less tech savvy.

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