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Two new custody suites, digital interview recording equipment, refurbishment of Bloxwich police station and police headquarters, and body worn video cameras for officers are just some of the changes already implemented in a multi-million pound programme to bring West Midlands Police into the 21st century.

Between now and 2020 the force will radically overhaul the way in which it operates while continuing to deliver the finest traditions of British policing. Never before has the force undergone such a major overhaul.

The latest details of the change programme are routinely scrutinised by the region’s media, local people and others at the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner’s Strategic Police and Crime Board. The Home Office and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary also receive regular updates from Chief Constable Dave Thompson or his Deputy, Louisa Rolfe, who is responsible for delivering the programme on time and to budget.

Today (Tuesday 1 November) the board examined the latest details of the bold programme just four weeks before the latest round of major changes become a reality.

Deputy Chief Constable Rolfe said: “This isn’t change for change sake, this will modernise what we do while protecting what is important.

“Everyone accepts the world has changed almost beyond recognition since West Midlands Police was formed in 1974. Expectations, technology and crime have all evolved but policing hadn’t kept up with that change.

“Our structures, processes and technology were still largely trapped in the 20th century. Yes we had obviously made some changes along the way, but little was joined up in the way WMP2020 is bringing things together.”

Launched in 2014 and following widespread consultation with local people and force employees, WMP2020 will cost around £77 million over six years but is set to secure £116 million worth of savings and countless non-cashable benefits, including freeing up officers to where they are needed most.

Just one example of how the improvements will save cash is the refurbishment of the force’s HQ. The redesign has seen the capacity of the 1960s building almost doubled meaning an end to costly city centre leases on four rented buildings across Birmingham city centre. Prior to the work, the outdated site needed £10 million worth of repairs just to ‘stand still’ for five years.

As well as pumping money into the local economy, the cost of the major building work will pay for itself in just seven years through the removal of the repair bills and lease savings.

There are currently 28 live projects under the WMP2020 banner. All have people and technology at their heart.

Six projects have been formally closed and are delivering the promised benefits and two other projects are due to close upon completion at the end of November.

Part of the drive to better equip officers on the move is the launch of a new multi-agency website which signposts people to support services across the West Midlands. The Impact Pathways site is an essential part of the force’s drive to act early and prevent people from coming to future harm.

Impact Pathways is a one-stop shop, detailing over 100 agencies that can help people in their hour of need, to be used by police, emergency services colleagues, local authorities and even those in need themselves across a range of issues, from addiction, to accommodation to domestic abuse.

“WMP2020 equips officers for policing the modern age,” added Deputy Chief Constable Rolfe.

“But more than that, they provide the people who police our streets with the tools they need to intervene sooner to prevent harm. This could be through body worn video footage which captures the aftermath of domestic abuse. The images will speed up the outcome in court. Smart phones mean officers can update crime reports on the go to get a vulnerable child the support they need sooner. The possibilities are endless.”

Talking about WMP2020, Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson – who was elected by local people to set policing priorities and hold the Chief Constable to account – said: “What remains at the core of the force is neighbourhood policing. My team and I will be scrutinising it every step of the way to make sure it delivers on that core pledge.

“As promised when I was elected, I will ensure there is recruitment of 1,150 officers, PCSOs and specialist staff.

“All of these changes are about making sure we put the right amount of resources into the right areas to tackle the crimes people are most concerned about.

“Every area will continue to have its own named police officers and, as promised, neighbourhood policing will always be protected − despite West Midlands Police facing the biggest budget cuts in the county.

“Better technology will mean that officers are able to spend more time tackling crime and less time in the station filling out forms.”

In the coming weeks, applications will open as the force looks to recruit 800 new PCs by 2020. The aim is for the force to be as representative as those they serve.

For more information on WMP2020 visit: where details on each of the projects can be found along with a brief newspaper on the programme.

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