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West Midlands Police has revealed the first steps in an intensive programme of work set to change the face of policing over the next five years. 

Cyber crime, bodyworn cameras, the reshaping of local policing, contact with the public and the investigation of crime all feature, aimed at creating a more agile and digitally capable force equipped to fight and prevent crime. 

Kick starting with a project looking at how to make the force more mobile so it can respond more quickly and proactively to emerging crime trends, the programme is also looking at how the force can form stronger links with partner agencies such as local authorities and the communities it serves.

Three months ago the force unveiled its WMP2020 Blueprint developed in consultation with colleagues, partners and the public. This sets out how the force will look feel and operate by 2020. 

The programme of work will now take that Blueprint and turn it, over the next five years, into reality. 

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 

Working with partner Accenture the force has developed a programme of work that will outline the first two years of the change programme. 

There are currently nine main programmes with 33 projects all working to deliver the Blueprint − essentially a new operating model for the force. 

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamison said: “The WMP2020 programme is making great strides to ensure the force can continue to work within the heart of communities despite ever diminishing budgets.

“The first two years of this vital programme of work are focused on ensuring we can get the right technology into officers’ hands to speed up our response and to improve the investigation process. 

“Over the last five years West Midlands Police has faced 23% cuts. Other forces have faced cuts as low as 12%, nearly half as much as we have.

“Keeping the people of the West Midlands safe and making sure that we are ready for the challenges of the future is the driving force behind this project.”

Chief Constable Chris Sims said: “This is very much work in progress with the first two years of the plan laying the foundations for the future ensuring the force has the in-house capabilities to turn it into a more digitally able and mobile force by 2020. 

“Broad themes of the programme cover improving the deployment of officers, connecting with the public in a more meaningful way, updating outdated and inefficient systems and working closer with partners. 

“We will also be looking at improving the deployment of officers and speeding up investigations by overhauling and updating the technology they have access to.

“This is all geared up to us continuing to provide a first class service to our communities from 2020 and beyond.” 

A copy of the report presented at a meeting to the Police and Crime Commissioner today (Tuesday 16 June) outlining the nine different programmes of work is available here. 

The changes come at a time when the organisation continues to operate within a framework of unprecedented financial challenge.

The force has faced a considerable period of austerity with a budget reduction of 23 per cent since 2010. This trend is set to continue. 

Despite these challenges the force has been highly successful in reducing crime and in delivering services across the region. WMP was recently marked as outstanding in the 2014 Police Effectiveness Efficiency & Legitimacy (PEEL) inspection by the HMIC. 

The force has to make anticipated savings in the region of £130m in the next five years and will need to operate with a reduction of more than 2,500 officer and staff posts. The emergency budget on 8 July could see the funding gap increase. 

The Chief Constable is clear though that even without austerity the programme of work the force is undertaking is necessary to modernise policing, making it fit for the 21st century.

Chris Sims added: “It is abundantly clear that we now face a further period of austerity that broadly matches the challenge to date.
“The existing force operating model will be unsustainable by 2020 which is one of the reasons why we have embarked on this ambitious transformational programme.

“It is also equally important that we can respond to and police the changing needs of our communities. 

“To do that we need to develop our own use of technology in order to improve the service we deliver – that is at the heart of the changes we intend to make.”

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