Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster has today issued a statement after HMIC decided to move West Midlands Police into an enhanced level of monitoring.
He said: “I have been repeatedly warning the government, that the reckless cuts it has imposed on West Midlands Police over a period of 13 years, has inflicted immense damage on the force. This has all too often left dedicated and hard-working police officers and staff, policing the West Midlands, with one hand tied behind their backs. That has taken its toll on West Midlands Police, its officers and staff and the people of the West Midlands.
“Notwithstanding the so-called police uplift, West Midlands Police, were left with 1,000 fewer officers than it had in 2010; the national funding formula costs West Midlands Police £40 million a year – the equivalent of 800 police officers; this year we received the fifth worst percentage national funding settlement in the country; and this year cuts of £28 million have had to be made and a further £22 million of cuts will have to be made next year.
“That has had serious adverse consequences for police visibility, response times, the conduct of investigations and the ability of West Midlands Police to prevent, tackle and reduce crime and protect the vulnerable. The people of the West Midlands have been paying the price and hard-working officers and staff have been picking up the pieces. The decision by HMIC to move West Midlands Police to engage, is yet further evidence of the damage inflicted on West Midlands Police and the people of the West Midlands by the government.
“I was notified of the decision by HMIC to engage West Midlands Police, during a 15 minutes Teams call on 22 November. I have yet to receive a letter from HMIC, setting out its areas of concern. I was provided with no prior notice of that decision. Despite having an agreement with HMIC, that WMP and I would have an opportunity to make representations prior to finalising of the decision, I am disappointed that HMIC have then resiled from that agreement. The final decision-making process by HMIC has been seriously unsatisfactory. I disagree with the decision of HMIC – a view that is shared by the Chief Constable.
“In any event, this is a matter that I am treating with the utmost seriousness and as a top priority, so as to ensure that the people of the West Midlands receive the service from West Midlands Police, that they are entitled to.
“I have been and will continue to hold WMP to account and will work with HMIC and all relevant partners to take the action necessary, to address the areas of concern, relating to the conduct of volume crime investigations, Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences and sex offender management. That will include ensuring that West Midlands Police prepare a plan, in order to resolve the areas of concern as a matter of urgency.
“However, it is important to understand that the decision is based on data, that is already between 8 to 11 months old and that pre-dates the launch of the new Neighbourhood Policing Strategy on 3 April 2023. The decision taken is in many respects, a reflection of ‘what was’ rather than ‘what is’. The inspection is already materially out of date, as a consequence of the action that has and/or is already being taken.
“In particular and despite all these many challenges I, together with West Midlands Police, have been driving significant improvements in a number of key areas, including the following:
- Launching a new Neighbourhood Policing Strategy on 3 April 2023;
- Transforming 999 and 101 performance;
- Improving crime recording accuracy now consistently averaging 90 – 95%;
- Achieving the largest crime reductions by volume of any force in the country;
- Increasing outcome rates for robbery, theft from the person and burglary;
- Slashing outstanding data recovery from devices relating to child sexual exploitation;
- Reducing outstanding on-line child sexual exploitation cases to drive enforcement;
- Preparing and implementing a plan to improve tackling on-line child sexual exploitation;
- Disrupting County Lines that saw the highest performing month on record in October 2023;
- Improving Domestic Abuse arrest rates and Domestic Abuse outcomes;
- Preparing and implementing a plan to improve the effectiveness of criminal investigations;
- Increasing the average monthly arrests rate by a third;
- Reductions in overall recorded crime, including burglary, theft from person, serious youth violence, knife crime and gun crime;
- Reductions in the number of firearms discharges, whilst the recovery of firearms has increased.
“However, I repeat that I am treating this matter with the utmost seriousness and as a top priority. I am committed to holding West Midlands Police to account and working with the Chief Constable, HMIC and other relevant partners, to address and resolve the areas of concern as a matter of urgency, so as to ensure that the people of the West Midlands receive the service from West Midlands Police, that they are entitled to.”
Chief Constable Craig Guildford has also written a letter to Wendy Williams, from HMIC, which can be read below.